What Is a Vaginectomy?

A vaginectomy is a surgery used to remove all or part of a woman's vagina.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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A vaginectomy is a surgery used to remove a woman’s vagina. It can be used to remove all of a woman’s vagina tissue or just part of it. In most cases, the vagina is removed as a treatment for cancer; the procedure may be also be used, however, as part of the process of sexual reassignment. When all of a woman's vagina is removed, the procedure is called a radical vaginectomy; procedures in which the upper portion of the vagina is removed are referred to as partial vaginectomies.

Cancer is the primary reason a woman’s vagina may be removed in a vaginectomy. In many cases, it is performed in conjunction with a total or partial hysterectomy. Typically, a vaginectomy is not a surgeon’s first choice of treatment. Instead, it is often recommended when vaginal cancer reoccurs and other treatment options have been exhausted.

Many people may wonder how it is possible to remove someone’s vagina. This can be difficult to envision. Doctors can, however, detach the muscular and tissue structure that makes up the vagina from its surrounding tissues and pull it out of the body, leaving nearby organs, such as the bladder, intact. In many cases, surgeons perform abdominal hysterectomies at the same time as radical vaginectomies.

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After a radical vaginectomy is performed, doctors typically take steps to reconstruct a vagina for the patient. This is usually accomplished using tissues and muscles from other parts of the patient’s body and is typically referred to as a vaginoplasty. If the purpose of the vaginectomy is to facilitate a sex-change process, however, surgeons may instead close the vaginal canal surgically.

In some cases, doctors don’t deem it necessary to remove all of a woman’s vagina. Instead, they may remove only part of it; sometimes they may remove her uterus, the tissues responsible for supporting the uterus, and the cervix as well. Often, surgeries to remove the uterus, cervix and upper part of the vagina are referred to as radical hysterectomies.

While a vaginectomy may be necessary as a treatment for cancer or as part of a sex-transfer operation, there are risks involved. For example, a patient may experience excessive bleeding during this type of operation or suffer a bad reaction to the anesthesia. Pain, infection, and blood clots may develop as well. As far as long-term effects of the surgery are concerned, patients may experience scarring, impaired ability to experience an orgasm, and swelling of the legs, thighs, and groin. This swelling can sometimes develop months or years after a person has a vaginectomy.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 3

@turquoise-- I hope that she doesn't need a vaginectomy and if she does, I hope it's only a partial vaginectomy. A partial removal is easier to do and recovery is faster.

bear78
Post 2

@turquoise-- My cousin had this surgery, but he was a hermaphrodite. He was born with both male and female organs and when he was twenty, he decided to have a vaginectomy and a reconstruction of his male organ.

All I know from his surgery is that he lost a lot of blood. We visited him in the hospital the next day and found out that he had to be given three bags of blood! But I'm sure that not everyone experiences so much bleeding.

Everything else was fine though, he didn't have any complications and he has healed perfectly well. He does everything that a normal male can do.

I realize that his situation is unique though. A woman who has a vaginectomy will have a different experience.

turquoise
Post 1

So what happens after a vaginectomy and vaginoplasty? Is the woman able to urinate and engage in intercourse normally?

A close friend of mine has been diagnosed with cancer. She will be undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But she said that the cancer is at an advanced stage and there is a possibility that she will have to go through a total vaginectomy.

Has anyone here gone through a vaginectomy? Or a loved one? Can you share your experiences?

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