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Keywords:

  • pelvic organ prolapse;
  • physiological;
  • prolapse surgery;
  • sexual dysfunction;
  • sexual function

Abstract

Aims

Prolapse surgery has been shown to positively alter body image and decrease pelvic floor symptoms, hereby possibly improving sexual function. However, the surgical trauma itself may adversely affect sexual function, by damaging vaginal innervation and vascularization. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of vaginal prolapse surgery on vaginal vasocongestion, vaginal wall sensibility, and sexual function.

Methods

A prospective study was performed, including patients scheduled for vaginal prolapse surgery. Participants underwent measurements before and 6 months after surgery, during non-erotic and erotic visual stimuli. Measurements were performed using a vaginal combi-probe which includes vaginal photoplethysmography to assess vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA) (representing vaginal vasocongestion), and four pulse-generating electrodes to measure vaginal wall sensibility (representing vaginal innervation). Sexual function was assessed using validated questionnaires (FSFI, FSDS-R, SSAQ).

Results

Twenty-nine women were included, 24 (83%) completed the 6 months follow-up. VPA analysis showed a significant reduction in vaginal vasocongestion during sexual stimulation post-operatively (pre-op 2.4 mV (SD 2.5) vs. post-op 1.7 mV (SD 2.4), P = 0.05). Vaginal wall sensibility in the cranial posterior vaginal wall was significantly reduced after surgery (pre-op 13.3 mA vs. post-op 17.5 mA, P < 0.05). Vaginal wall sensibility in the other three locations was not affected by surgery. Sexual function as assessed with questionnaires, was not significantly affected.

Conclusion

Prolapse surgery negatively impacted levels of vaginal vasocongestion during erotic stimuli as well as vaginal wall sensibility in the cranial posterior wall. Future studies are needed to tease out if these changes in physiological factors are relevant for subjective sexual function. Neurourol. Urodynam. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.