If you have part or all of the vagina removed, you may be able to have vaginal reconstruction. The plastic surgeon makes a new vagina using flaps of skin, fat and sometimes muscle, from another part of the body. These are shaped into a closed tube and stitched into place. This can be done when the vagina is removed, or as a separate operation after you have recovered.
Some people who have reconstruction may be able to have vaginal sex, but it is not always possible.
Whether vaginal reconstruction is suitable for you will depend on your health and what cancer treatments you have had before.
Not everyone chooses to have vaginal reconstruction. If you have a partner, it can be helpful to talk to them about your options and the possible changes.
You can also talk to your surgeon or specialist nurse about whether it is right for you.
The new vagina may have feeling (sensation), but this is usually very different to what you could feel before.
Vaginal sex may be possible once you have healed. But you may need to try different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you. Your new vagina will not make its own lubrication. You will need to use lubricant gels during sex. Your specialist nurse can give you more information about this and give you advice on coping with any difficulties you may have.
As the new vagina heals, there might be scarring. This can make it smaller and less stretchy. Your hospital team may recommend you use vaginal dilators to help with this. Dilators are tampon-shaped plastic tubes of different sizes, which you use with a lubricant. Sometimes the surgeon may do another small operation to reduce the scarring.
Your specialist nurse can support you and talk to you about any concerns you have about the new vagina.