Pelvic organ prolapse is a common that affects more than 30 million American women in the United States. Unfortunately, only 15% of women who have prolapse seek treatment from a doctor. This article will define prolapse, discuss the symptoms of prolapse and discuss some of the treatment options.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where there is a weakening of the support tissues or muscles of the pelvis. The symptoms of POP include a bulge or lump in the vagina or a pulling or stretching sensation in the groin. Women with POP may complain of difficulty with sexual intimacy. They may also have urine and\or fecal incontinence. They may also have difficulty with bowel movements or difficulty emptying their bladder.
The causes of POP include menopause, multiple pregnancies and childbirth, prior pelvic surgery, obesity, and as a consequence of the aging process.
Treatment options for POP
Conservative therapies including strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. This can be easily accomplished with Kegel exercises. These are exercises named after the doctor who devised the treatment, which consists of contracting and relaxing the muscles in the pelvis. These are the same muscles which hold urine in and rectal gas in place. A woman should do the Kegel exercises multiple times a day and should not expect any changes for several months until the muscles are strengthened.
For more information on Kegel exercises go to http://www.neilbaum.com/pelvic-exercises-for-women-kegel-exercises.html.
Another conservative therapy is the use of pessaries or plastic or rubber rings which are inserted into the vagina to restore the fallen organ back into the normal anatomic position. Peccaries will work immediately but they have to be changed periodically in order to avoid vaginal infections.
Probably the most common treatment is surgical repair of the prolapse. The surgery is used to strengthen structures around the vagina to maintain support of the structures and organs in the pelvis. These procedures can usually be accomplished through the vaginal opening. Most women can have the procedure on a one-day stay basis or remain in the hospital for just 24 hours. Most women need little or no pain medication after the procedure and can return to all activities including heavy lifting, exercise, and sexual intimacy in 3-4 weeks after the procedure.
Most of the surgical procedures that restore the normal anatomy are 90% successful and most patients are very satisfied after the procedure.
Bottom Line: If something isn’t right “down there” you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are several treatment options to restore your normal anatomy. You can have an improved quality of life and return to your normal activities within a short time. If you have any questions, call your doctor.