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Burch colposuspension Q&As
Published by Bupa's health information team, March 2009.
Answers to questions about burch colposuspension
This section contains answers to common questions about this topic. Questions have been suggested by health professionals, website feedback and requests via email.
What are pelvic floor muscles and how can they help with stress incontinence?
Your urethra (the tube through which urine passes out of the body), vagina and anus pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks because sudden pressure is put on your bladder, such as when you cough, laugh or lift something. Strong pelvic floor muscles can help keep your bladder and urethral sphincter closed, and stop accidental leakage.
Pelvic floor muscles form a sling passing from the coccyx (tip of your spine) at the back to the pubic bone at the front. The urethra, vagina and anus pass through the pelvic floor, so strengthening your pelvic floor can help stop accidental leakage from your bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles also make it less likely for the womb to slide down into your vagina and may increase your sexual satisfaction, as you are able to contract and relax your vaginal wall muscles better.
Pelvic floor exercises
Check with your physiotherapist or surgeon before you do these exercises.
- Get into a comfortable position, either lying on your back or sitting upright in a chair.
- To find your pelvic floor muscles, imagine you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and stop the flow of urine at the same time. Try to lift the front and back passages.
- As you contract the muscles try to breathe normally - don't hold your breath. Don't squeeze your legs together as you contract.
Try to do ten slow contractions (tighten the muscles for up to ten seconds, release and rest for four seconds and repeat contraction) and ten quick contractions (squeeze, lift firmly and let go quickly). You need to do these exercises five to ten times a day and continue to do them for the rest of your life.
What can I do to improve my bowel movement after having Burch colposuspension?
A diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables and plenty to drink is often all that is needed to improve your bowel movement.
Mild constipation is common after surgery. But it's important to try and avoid this because straining when you go to the toilet is uncomfortable and puts pressure on the healing wound.
To help improve your bowel movement, make sure that your diet is rich in fibre. Fibre is essential for healthy bowel function. When fibre passes through your bowel, it absorbs a lot of water and increases the bulk of any waste matter. It also makes the waste softer and increases the speed and ease with which it passes through your bowel. Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day and wholemeal bread, rice or pasta will usually provide enough fibre to keep your bowel function healthy.
To prevent or relieve constipation, it's also important to remain well hydrated. Drinking six to eight glasses of fluid (that's about two litres) per day is usually sufficient.
What are my treatment options if the Burch colposuspension fails?
Burch colposuspension has a good success rate; 85 to 90 percent of women are cured or their symptoms are significantly improved.
Burch colposuspension is often done using keyhole surgery because this procedure leaves less scarring and has a quicker recovery period. Most women find their symptoms are completely cured or significantly improved after the operation. But, if your symptoms return your doctor may recommend repeat Burch colposuspension using open surgery technique. Open surgery involves a larger cut in your lower abdomen and usually has a longer recovery period.
- Surgical treatment of urodynamic stress incontinence - guideline No.35. Royal college of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2003. www.rcog.org.uk
This information was published by Bupa's health information team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been peer reviewed by Mr Naim Boutros, MBchB, LRCP, MRCS, MRCOG, Dip Ultrasound, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Medway Maritime Hospital NHS Trust, and by Bupa doctors. The content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
Publication date: March 2009
Burch colposuspension factsheet
Visit the burch colposuspension factsheet for more information.