I then remembered that I had been experiencing back pain and more strange feelings 'down there' on a more frequent basis, almost cyclically. I've had two c-sections and thought, Do I have adhesion pain?
It's not severe, but annoying. It certainly wasn't enough to cause me infertility (at least after my first section) because I got pregnant twice more very easily. My doctor supposedly cleaned up scar tissue during my last surgery, but of course more would have formed after I healed up. Every now and then I get twinges that are almost like round ligament pains, and am starting to wonder just what the heck is going on.
Knowing little about adhesions and 'female pain,' I did some research. I was shocked to learn that among women surveyed for a particular study, between 55 and 100 percent of women had adhesions. Apparently they're pretty common after pelvic reproductive surgery, but not as many women experience complications from them.
Basically what happens is that when you heal, your scar tissue can literally grow into other organs around that space that are not normally connected. The worst-case scenario could mean infertility and even bowel obstruction, because the scar tissue has formed around the bowel tissue and literally cut it off. Other problems that are probably a total pain in the ass to live with include pain during urination and sex, and just pelvic pain in general. Unfortunately a lot of the treatment for c-section adhesions often means opening you up again to see what's going on, which just creates more scar tissue. And from what little I've read about it, it's often hard to get someone to take your pain seriously - often difficult to diagnose, it's estimated that around 33 percent of women will have it during their lifetime, and up to 20% already do.
As far as pain from c-sections go, the one website made a vague reference to 'an ounce of prevention being a pound of cure,' since they cited that nearly half of all women develop adhesions after their first c-section. That figure rises dramatically (to 75%) after a woman's third section. What are they saying? They don't exactly make it clear, but let's hope that it's 'if you can avoid having a section in the first place, it can help prevent this problem.' (Since this website is created by the Women's Health and Urology Department of Johnson & Johnson, I'm guessing that is the reason for their vagueness. Who knows.)
A patient referenced on the website said that while her first c-section went quickly, her second was much longer because her doctor had trouble removing the baby through the excess scar tissue. She added,
My fear is that her doctor never told her the risks, which is his responsibility as a physician. Looking back, my doctor never mentioned them either, only until I brought it up while preparing to have a VBAC with my second child. As expected, he totally downplayed the risks, in my opinion. (Avoiding a possibly unnecessary c-section in the first place would have even further reduced that risk, but I guess that's a moot point.)
And much to my amusement, one of their suggestions was that your risk of adhesions could be lowered if your doctor 'took great care during surgery.' Well, let's hope they all do that!