pelvic organs? come on down! (part 1 of 4)

Posting the below screenshot to my personal Facebook account was the tactful way in which I chose to announce to my friends and family that

MY GIRL PARTS ARE FALLING OUT OF MY BODY.

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Yes. Yes, they are.

And because my girl parts are falling out of my body, I’ve decided to go ahead and schedule both a hysterectomy and what the doctors call “pelvic reconstructive surgery,” though I prefer to think of it as GO GO BIONIC VAGINA!

AND TAINT!

ALSO BUTTHOLE!

If you’re already lost and disgusted, let me back up and offer a little illumination. Pelvic reconstructive surgery is the procedure used to correct a fun little condition called female genital prolapse, which you can read about here if you’re not the squeamish sort. If you are the squeamish sort, “my girl parts are falling out of my body” should do you for now.

(Still, I feel fair warning is in order: in true est. 1975 fashion, I will be exploring a few some many of the gory details of pelvic organ prolapse in this series. This first post won’t be so bad, but if you want to keep following along, you’re going to need to nut up.)

Anyhow.

The story begins, as many often do, with the birth of my son.

We all know that there are plenty of unpleasant side effects to carrying and delivering a child. What a lot of us don’t know, however, is that one of the most common is some degree of female genital prolapse. That’s when a woman’s pelvic organs start to just sliiiiiide out of her body in what I can only describe as a most undignified manner. (Out her hoo-ha.)

Yet no one ever talks about it.

It doesn’t happen to every woman. And for some women, it doesn’t happen right away – it can take years. And years. And years. Still, the Harvard Medical School claims that “by age 80, more than 1 in every 10 women will have undergone surgery for prolapse.” Wikipedia adds that “genital prolapse occur[ed] in about 316 million women worldwide as of 2010 (9.3% of all females.)”

That’s a lot of girl parts sliding out of a lot of lady holes.

Now. Before you say “THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ME” let me assure you: it can. It can happen to absolutely any woman. It can happen regardless of whether your childbirth was vaginal or C-section. It can happen whether your labor and delivery turned into one of those prolonged fucking nightmares we’ve all heard so much about, or whether the whole thing was more like an “energetic queef” situation. In fact, a baby doesn’t even need to be part of the equation – a weak pelvic floor, some heavy lifting, or an athletic injury can all do the job.

What I’m saying is it can happen. Trust.

Take me, for instance – my son’s birth was incredibly easy. I was in labor for not even twelve hours and I pushed for not even one. I didn’t tear. I didn’t poop. And at my six-week postpartum checkup, nothing seemed amiss. All was well down below. I seriously thought I’d won the childbirth lottery. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

And yet by ten weeks postpartum, I felt like I was smuggling a clementine in my vagina. I went back to the gynecologist and was diagnosed with a prolapsed bladder. My doctor, who truth be told seemed mighty “meh” about the situation, told me that the solution was threefold:

  1. Lose the pregnancy weight.
  2. Do Kegels.
  3. Give it time.

I left the office that day feeling a bit uncertain. It seemed like my doctor was not much concerned with the fact that my vaginal canal had a bladder in it, even though I was pretty sure that my vaginal canal wasn’t the usual place for my bladder to hang out. And the prescribed therapy (lose weight, do some vag clenches, chill out) seemed way too simple and frankly also a little ridiculous.  But ultimately I was not a doctor. My GYN obviously hadn’t been bothered by the situation, so eventually I decided that neither was I.

A couple of years went by. I did lose most of the pregnancy weight but let’s face it, I wasn’t a skinny mini to begin with. I did my Kegels – for a while. Time passed and the prolapse seemed like it was improving. Because these things improve, right?

RIGHT GUYS?

GUYS?

RIGHT?

Wrong. Gravity is a powerful force and one not to be underestimated. And I had underestimated it. Also, I had not been informed of all the facts, particularly one vital piece of information that in retrospect you’d think someone would’ve bothered to tell me:

A woman’s bladder, uterus, and rectum are kind of like Siamese triplets.

That’s right. Siamese triplets. They’re all attached to one another, and apparently they suffer from crippling separation anxiety, because if one of them tries to run away, it’s only a matter of time until the other two follow suit. From that point forward, no matter what you do to try and stop The Gynecological Great Escape, it’s going to happen.

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And it did happen.

Despite my best efforts to avoid getting older, I did nonetheless… do that. And because of the aging process, my slowing metabolism, and the fact that I eat 238723847 tons of food a day, I put all of the weight back on and more. I stopped doing Kegels because they are boring and make me have to pee, and all the while the force of gravity continued to work its unfortunate magic on my Siamese triplets.

Now, what should look like this:

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Side view of what the vaginal canal is *supposed* to look like. If a 3-year-old drew it.

Looks more like this:

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Side view of what my vaginal canal *actually* looks like. If a 3-year-old drew it.

And because it should most definitely not look like that, I am currently in the process of scheduling my hysterectomy and pelvic reconstructive surgery. I’ve seen all the doctors, I’ve been to all the appointments. I just need to make the actual phone call to set up a date and time.

Ugh.

I hate making phone calls.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series when I discuss how the surgery necessary to keep MY GIRL PARTS FROM FALLING OUT OF MY BODY is considered purely “elective.” That’s right. If I want to spend the rest of my life leaking piss and feeling like my bladder, uterus, and rectum might go flying out of my body if I do a hard sneeze, I can choose to live like that and no doctor would have a problem with it whatsoever.

And sadly a lot of women *do* choose to live like that, because it’s awkward and embarrassing to talk about hoo-has and poop chutes, especially when they are trying to run away from you.

But I have no sense of decorum, so I’ll talk about hoo-has and poop chutes all day long. Boy, will I.

Lots of gory details in Part 2!

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Interested in reading more of this series? Follow the yellow brick links!

Post 1: Diagnosis: Prolapse

Post 2: How to Fix Dem Sagging Girl Parts

Post 3: The Wide Wide World of Pre-Op

Post 4: Pain and Catheters and Constipation, Oh My!