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Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is when one or more of the pelvic organs moves into or beyond the vaginal canal or anus. This is usually due to the weakening or stretching of the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvis’s organs. These pelvic organs include:

  • Uterus
  • Rectum
  • Bladder
  • Small intestine
  • Vagina

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse vary widely, with some individuals experiencing no symptoms at all while others have severe pain and discomfort. Some common symptoms include:

  • The sensation of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area
  • A bulge or protrusion from the vaginal opening or anus
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Low backache
  • Urinary or bowel symptoms such as incontinence or constipation

Causes and Risk Factors of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The main cause of POP is pelvic muscle and tissue injury. These injuries can result from childbirth, particularly after a difficult delivery, or anything that applies pressure on the belly, such as heavy lifting or being overweight. Other contributing factors include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Hysterectomy
  • Conditions that lead to increased abdominal pressure, like chronic constipation or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Hormonal changes during menopause

Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

A detailed medical history and physical examination are typically the starting point for diagnosing pelvic organ prolapse. Further diagnostic tools might include:

  • Bladder function tests
  • Pelvic floor strength tests
  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI

Treatment Options

The treatment for pelvic prolapse varies based on the condition’s severity, the individual’s overall health, and the patient’s personal preferences. If a woman doesn’t notice any symptoms of POP and it’s not negatively impacting urination or defecation, treatment may not be necessary. For mild cases, lifestyle changes like those listed below can be beneficial:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regular pelvic floor exercises like Kegel exercises
  • Avoiding heavy lifting

Sometimes, a fitted device called a pessary, inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs, may be recommended. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be helpful for menopausal women experiencing POP.

Surgical intervention may be considered for moderate to severe cases where symptoms significantly interfere with daily life. This type of surgery could involve repairing the tissue that supports the pelvic organs, implanting a mesh sling, or in some cases, performing a hysterectomy.

Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse

While it might not be possible to prevent all cases of POP, certain strategies can reduce the risk of developing POP:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding heavy lifting
  • Quitting smoking
  • Treating and preventing constipation
  • Regularly performing pelvic floor exercises

If the prolapse is left untreated, over time it may stay the same or slowly get worse. In rare cases, severe prolapse can cause obstruction of the kidneys or urinary retention (inability to pass urine). This may lead to kidney damage or infection. Contact us today!

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