Vaginal and uterine septums are rare abnormalities that are present from birth. Often, women do not realize they have a septum until they start experiencing problems or undergo an ultrasound. Although having a uterine or vaginal septum does not necessarily cause infertility or other problems in every case, undergoing surgery to correct the abnormality can be used to treat some symptoms.
There are several different types of vaginal and uterine septums. A septum generally refers to a wall of tissue that divides a bodily cavity into two separate cavities. The separation may be partial or complete. Click on the links to learn more about the different types of septum abnormalities.
What’s the Goal of Surgery to Correct Uterine or Vaginal Septums?
Vaginal septums can cause menstrual problems or pain during sex or tampon use. Most doctors recommend undergoing surgery to correct this abnormality. Surgery to remove the septum can allow a girl to menstruate and use tampons normally, relieve associated menstrual pain, and provide for a normal, healthy sex life.
Uterine septums generally do not cause health problems in women and may not require any treatment at all, but they can cause fertility problems in some patients. Women with uterine septums are more likely to experience infertility, premature labor, miscarriage, and recurring pregnancy loss than women with normally-shaped reproductive organs. A septum may block sperm from reaching one of the ovaries, or significantly decrease the amount of space that a fetus has to grow inside the womb. Surgery to remove the septum can sometimes improve the conditions in the uterus and make pregnancy more likely.
When is Surgery to Correct Septums Effective?
There are several varieties of uterine and vaginal abnormalities, and surgery can be a better option for some patients than for others.
Both transverse and longitudinal vaginal septums can be safely surgically separated to improve symptoms. Women can generally use tampons comfortably, enjoy sex with their partners, and most can look forward to a normal vaginal delivery, should they choose to have children.
This is a septum that completely divides the uterus into two halves. Surgically removing the septum wall can increase the amount of space in the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant. Studies have shown that this type of repair can significantly increase fertility outcomes for patients.
Other Uterine Septums
On the other hand, surgery to correct a bicornate or unicornate uterus is typically not recommended. Surgery may irreparably scar the uterine tissue and can actually exacerbate fertility problems.
How is Corrective Surgery Performed?
Surgery to correct a uterine or vaginal septum is performed under general anesthesia, so you will not be awake during the procedure.
Vaginal septum surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure through the patient’s vagina, with no additional abdominal incisions needed.
Surgery to repair a uterine septum is usually performed as an outpatient procedure laparoscopically. This means that the surgeon’s instruments are inserted through a few small incisions in the lower abdomen, and the surgeon views the procedure on a screen through a tiny, lighted camera called a laparoscope. This is called a hysteroscopic repair.
Recovery from Septum Surgery
Depending on the type of surgery, you should be able to return to work within a day or two following surgery, and can expect a full recovery after about 2-4 weeks. You may experience some abdominal pain after uterine surgery, and vaginal pain after vaginal surgery. Some women find that it is difficult to sit down comfortably for a few days after surgery. This is normal, but call your doctor if the pain worsens.
You may also experience light spotting for up to one week after the surgery. Use a pad to absorb any blood or discharge. Avoid using tampons and abstain from sex until cleared by your doctor.
Call your doctor right away if you experience any symptoms of infection, such as nausea, chills, fever, or vomiting.