I gave birth to my first child--a healthy 7-lb. baby girl--on August 1, 2012. Several days later, it became apparent to me that the second-degree tear that my OB repaired was in fact a third-degree tear or worse. I could no longer control my bowels and found that I involuntarily excreted anything from minor leakage to frank stool.
My OB referred me to a colorectal surgeon. She ordered an anal ultrasound, which confirmed that my external anal sphincter was completely severed. The surgeon recommended an overlapping sphincteroplasty. However, she advised that I wait a few months to give myself time to heal from my delivery and see if the incontinence resolved on its own. In those months I did daily Kegels in an effort to strengthen my pelvic floor.
Alas, I noticed very little improvement and I needed to get on with my life, so on December 21, 2012 I underwent the sphincteroplasty. My initial recovery was brutal. It certainly hurt a lot more than my postpartum injury! I was discharged from the hospital the following day, but I had to return in a few days because I was hemorrhaging. The wound had completely opened--which my surgeon assured me happens in 99% of cases.
Finally, the bleeding became manageable and I was home again to welcome 2013. I noticed that I still had some incontinence, which felt like insult to injury, but I knew it was to be expected for a while. I hoped to be well healed and continent by the spring.
Instead of my expected two months of healing, I am now approaching four months post-op with a wound that won't heal. Of course it is better than it was; however, I still clearly have a "third hole" down there. I wear a pad every day because of the blood and discharge. Despite my best efforts to keep the area clean, it is still intensely itchy and tender, and it often collects stool in it. I don't need pain medication any more, and I am more consistently continent today, but I definitely don't feel good.
My surgeon had been cauterizing my wound every few weeks, which seemed to help speed the healing process somewhat. However, my insurance is no longer covering my post-op visits, so I can't afford to see her anymore. Now I'm on my own.
Meanwhile, my husband and I have had sex once (in March) since the birth of our daughter, and it was quite painful and difficult. Although my husband has thankfully been understanding, I am incredibly frustrated. I am afraid that by the time I do heal, I will be pregnant again--assuming I'm able to somewhat comfortably have sex.
Has anyone else been through a similar situation? How did you deal with it?
I have certainly healed more than when I wrote my original post. However, I do still have some minor pain when I use my sphincter muscle, and I am only about 80% continent. If I squat, walk upstairs, cough, run, or simply experience a lot of stress, I may lose some stool. My surgeon told me (after the operation, of course) that sphincteroplasty has a 50% failure rate after the first year alone, and that after several years the number is close to 90%. But if you're desperate--which you must be to even consider this surgery--then it's the best option you have. Good luck to you!
I had my spincteroplasty almost two weeks ago. It went well. No issues so far and the pain isn't so bad. My problem is I'm extremely constipated. My Dr has added Miramax into my mineral oil & my fiber drinks & stool softener but it isn't helping yet. Did you have this problem after yours?
Glad your surgery went well! I wish I had been more constipated after my surgery...well, sort of. Miralax, Colace, and prune juice should help. And stay hydrated! I hope that your recovery is swift and easy.