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Urethral Suspension—Transvaginal Suspensions


Urethral suspension is a surgery to correct stress incontinence in women.

Female Bladder and Urethra

Bladder and uretha female
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Reasons for Procedure    TOP

The goal of this surgery is to place the urethra and bladder back into the correct position. This will stop the uncontrolled leaking of urine.

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Inability to urinate
  • Continued incontinence or recurrence of the problem
  • Damage to other nearby organs or blood vessels
  • Pain such as during sexual intercourse

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will try to find out why you are leaking urine through:

  • Urine sample—to look for the presence of infection or other problems
  • Physical exam—includes a rectal and vaginal exam
  • Additional testing may be ordered to evaluate bladder function and urine flow such as:
    • Urodynamic testing (urine flow studies)—a temporary catheter is placed to study bladder function
    • Cystoscopy —a procedure done to view the inside of the bladder

Leading up to surgery:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
  • Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.


You may receive a spinal anesthetic to numb your lower body. General anesthesia may also be used, in which case you will be asleep.

Description of Procedure    TOP

This procedure is done through the vagina. There are no visible cuts made in the skin. Special surgical tools will be passed up through the vagina. These tools will be used to place sutures near the bottom of the bladder. The threads will then be tied to the abdominal wall or the pelvic bone. The thread will pull the bladder back into its normal position. The threads will be left in place to continue to support the bladder.

Immediately After Procedure    TOP

After surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery room. You will most likely have a catheter in place to drain your urine.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

1-1.5 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. After surgery, you may experience some pain or soreness. You will be given pain medication to relieve the discomfort.

Average Hospital Stay    TOP

You will most likely be sent home the same day.

Postoperative Care    TOP

At the Hospital

At first, your urine may look bloody. This will resolve over time.

When you are able to empty your bladder completely, the catheter will be removed. You may be asked to get up and walk around.

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks

There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks

At Home

Avoid lifting and strenuous exercise for 6 weeks after surgery. This will allow healing to take place. Do not return to sexual activity or use tampons until your doctor says it is okay to do so.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble urinating
  • Pain, burning, urgency, or frequency while urinating

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Urology Care Foundation


Canadian Urological Association
The Canadian Continence Foundation


Surgical treatment for female stress urinary incontinence. National Association for Continence website. Available at: Accessed December 18, 2017.
Townsend MK, Danforth KN, Rosner B, Curhan GC, Resnick NM, Grodstein F. Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women. J Urol. 2008;179(3):1012-1016.
Urinary incontinence. Family Doctor—American Association of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Urinary incontinence. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 18, 2017.
Urogynecologic surgical mesh. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: Accessed December 18, 2017.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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