Closure of the Vagina (Vaginal Obliteration)

Surgery Overview

Closure of the vagina is surgery done for an older woman whose uterus has moved from its natural position to press uncomfortably into the vagina (uterine prolapse). This procedure may also be done if an older woman's vagina severely sags or drops into the vaginal canal (vaginal vault prolapse). In this surgery, the vagina is sewn shut. So it is only done if the woman no longer desires sexual intercourse.

Vaginal obliteration is done by removing the entire vaginal lining except for 1 in. (2.54 cm) to 1.5 in. (3.81 cm). The vagina is then sewn shut. If the uterus is still present, a small opening is left in the vagina to allow fluids to drain from the uterus.

Because vaginal obliteration is a relatively brief surgical procedure, it may be done when a woman has one or more severe long-term (chronic) medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, that make a longer procedure more of a risk.

Click here to view a Decision Point.Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Should I Have Surgery?

What To Expect After Surgery

General, regional, or local anesthesia may be used for vaginal obliteration. You may stay in the hospital from 1 to 2 days. You will probably be able to return to your normal activities in about 4 weeks, but this can vary widely. Avoid strenuous activity for the first 2 weeks, and increase your activity level gradually.

Why It Is Done

Vaginal obliteration is done to correct severe uterine or vaginal vault prolapse in an older woman who no longer desires sexual intercourse or whose other chronic health problems make a longer surgical procedure more dangerous.

How Well It Works

Vaginal obliteration is an effective treatment for vaginal vault or uterine prolapse. Sometimes a surgical procedure for urinary incontinence is done at the same time.

Risks

Complications of vaginal obliteration are uncommon.

What To Think About

The main point of vaginal obliteration is speed and simplicity. This procedure is usually best for women who have chronic health conditions, because a more extensive or complicated surgery could be dangerous.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised October 9, 2012

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