Scar Tissue: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I have always been fascinated by how you can bring two sides of your skin together (i.e. after a surgery as in the case of vaginal stenosis) and those two sides will grow back together. How cool is that? Our bodies have a miraculous ability to heal. And without scar tissue, that would not be possible. Without the ability to form a scar, those two sides would not grow back together.
However, scar tissue is a double-edged sword. Some people do not like the way their scars look and want to get rid of them. Sometimes, scars cause pain or limit a person’s ability to do something. Americans spend $20 million dollars a year to treat their scars.
Scar tissue can keep organs from moving as they should in the body. In a scar tissue free environment, the organs within the abdominal cavity would move synergistically with one another. For example, if I were to reach for an object, my body easily moves with right and left twisting. If there is a scar, however, that movement is restricted. I may feel a pull in my abdomen or even pain as I twist.
Pelvic Scar Tissue
There are some forms of scar tissue that directly affect the pelvic cavity, abdomen, vagina, and bowel. These include scar tissue formation and vaginal stenosis. These can occur after childbirth, a hysterectomy, gynecologic cancer, anorectal cancer, or gender reassignment surgery.
A female may have a scar on her abdomen. This may be the case after a Cesarean birth, a hysterectomy, bowel resection, or gender reassignment surgery. This scar can be painful, make it difficult to contract the abdominal muscles, and may cause painful sex.
During intercourse, the vagina should expand in size, going further into the abdominal cavity. Scar tissue going from the abdomen to the uterus may make vaginal expansion difficult and cause dyspareunia. Dyspareunia is the medical term for pain with intercourse.
Following a vaginal delivery or gender reassignment surgery, a woman may develop a scar on her pelvic floor. During childbirth, a scar may develop from tearing or an episiotomy. Depending on how extensive the scar is, the underlying tissue can make it more difficult to contract the pelvic floor muscles. This may lead to problems with involuntary urinary or fecal leakage (i.e. urinary incontinence).
Treatment for gynecologic or anorectal cancer can involve extensive surgery to the abdomen or pelvic organs. Additionally, if radiation was a necessary treatment, the tissues of the vagina or anus may become stenotic. This means they may become smaller in size. It may be necessary to mobilize that scar tissue in order to have bowel movements or resume penetrative vaginal intercourse.
One way to effectively manage and treat scar tissue is to mobilize the scar to make it more pliable. Manually (with your hands) is one option. Manual manipulation helps with mobilizing scar tissue near the surface of the skin. For instance, mobilizing a perineal scar after childbirth can be effectively performed manually.
Scar tissue may develop further inside the vagina or the abdominal cavity, which can cause vaginal narrowing or vaginal stenosis. This is particularly common following pelvic radiation or any kind of vaginal surgery. Using vaginal dilators is effective at mobilizing this specific scar tissue.
There are many different types of vaginal dilators (also called vaginal trainers) that come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. There are static dilators (size-by-size, multiple insertions) and continuous (expandable, single insertion). Choosing the right dilator is important.
One expandable dilator that is especially helpful for gently mobilizing scar tissue is Milli (For $50 off, use code SHA50). WIth a click-of-a-button, Milli incrementally expands millimeter-by-millimeter inside your vaginal canal. Additionally, Milli has built-in vibration that may help relax the surrounding muscles and stimulate blood flow. Features like this, that are all-in-one, may help support dilating sessions with time, convenience, comfort, and even the clutter. Your night stand or sink counter will thank you.
If any of this dilator talk doesn’t make sense, visit my Instagram page. Look for my educational series: The Ins and Outs of Vaginal Dilators. Here, I’m discussing everything from what they are, when to use them, and common uses and additional uses for them.
My goal is to help women achieve optimal health and, most importantly, independence to manage or maintain this. Complete this form for a complimentary 15-minute coaching on getting started with vaginal dilators training session.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional, or as a diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the advice of your healthcare professional before engaging in any treatments, including a vaginal dilation program, or taking any medical advice from the internet.