Follow-up care after surgery

At your follow-up appointment, your surgeon will check how you are healing and ask how you have been recovering after the operation.

They will also discuss the results of the operation with you and advise you if you need any further treatment.

If you have any problems or worries before this follow-up appointment, contact your hospital doctor, nurse specialist or the nurses on your ward for advice.

Sex

Your surgeon will usually advise you not to have sex for at least six weeks after your operation. This is to give your wound time to heal properly. After that most women will be able to gradually get back to your usual sex life. But it is not unusual to need more time before you feel ready, especially if you are having other treatments as well.

A few women may develop some tightening and scar tissue at the entrance to the vagina, which can make sex more difficult. If this happens, it is important to discuss it with your doctor or nurse. They can give you advice and support.

If the clitoris was removed at the time of surgery, sex can feel different and it can be more difficult to become aroused. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you before the operation.

Bladder and bowel problems after surgery

Most women who have surgery for vulval cancer will not have any problems with their bladder or bowel.

Sometimes when part of the vulva has been removed, the stream of urine may flow to one side or spray. This may feel a little odd the first few times you pass urine.

Rarely, if the cancer has spread to the tube that you pass urine through (urethra) or the lower end of the large bowel (anus and rectum) these areas will be included in the operation. This may affect how you pass urine or have a bowel movement. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you be-fore the operation.

Nerve damage

After surgery, some women have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in the area around the vulva. You may also have a change in sensation in your groin or down your legs. This is because of the effects of surgery on the nerves close by. These effects usually improve over a period of months, although for some women they can be permanent.

Back to Surgery

What happens before the surgery?

Your surgeon will discuss your surgery and how you can prepare with you – this is a good time to ask any questions you have.

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.