Vulvectomy is a gynecological surgery technique involving partial or complete removal of the right, the left, or both areas of the vulva.

This procedure is usually utilized as a means of treatment for cancer of the vulva, vulvar dysplasia, or vulvar neoplasia.

Vulvectomy Surgery Recovery

Following surgery, it is common to experience discomfort in the vulvar region for the first few weeks.

In addition to following your doctor’s post-surgery directions, here are some things you can do to help the healing process along:

  • Avoid wearing tight or constrictive underwear or pantyhose.
  • Use gentle, mild soap to bathe with.
  • Avoid using perfumes, talc, or scented lotions in the vulva or groin region.
  • Wear loose pants or skirts to prevent irritation and compression.
  • Sleep in loose, clean pajamas and no underwear.

After approximately eight weeks, your doctor may tell you that it is safe to have sex again.

What to Expect After Surgery & Tips for Healing

Many women still experience discomfort at that time and have difficulty returning to sexual activity.

Here are options to help return to pain-free intercourse:

    1. Use vaginal dilators. Vaginal dilators, also referred to as vaginal trainers, are used to restore vaginal width, depth, and elasticity to allow for sexual activity or medical exams.

      These unique pelvic floor exercisers are commonly recommended during or after cancer treatments, including radiation and surgery.

      The graduated sizes allow for women to find their perfect fit and progress to reach their goals.
  1. Make an appointment to see a pelvic physical therapist. Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist is an important component to overall healing and returning to sex.

    A pelvic floor physical therapist is trained in treatment of pelvic pain and post-surgical rehabilitation. They will conduct a thorough examination and help create a plan to help reduce pain, improve healing to the skin and underlying pelvic floor muscles, and empower you to reach your goals.

    You can search for a pelvic physical therapist in your area through the American Physical Therapy Association here:

  2. Balance rest with activity. The body burns through energy during the healing process. Often after surgery when you start feeling better, it is tempting to jump straight back into life to achieve a sense of normalcy again. Keep in mind that the healing process takes several weeks, and that your body may require more rest. 

    Feeling fatigued can affect intimacy in addition to normal activities of daily living. Allow yourself to rest when you need to, and temper active days with a good night’s sleep.

    When you feel ready to have sex again, communicate with your partner as to how you are feeling, and schedule rest time around it.

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By Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC
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