If you are experiencing pelvic organ prolapse, you are not alone. Nearly one-third of women of all ages experience this condition at some point in their lives. While not usually a major health issue, the condition can potentially be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and hinder your quality of life.
There is no need to suffer in silence. A variety of simple solutions and enhanced treatments can help. Learn about the causes of pelvic organ prolapse and what you can do to help relieve the symptoms.
What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Simply put, pelvic organ prolapse is a hernia of the vagina, resulting from weakening of the vaginal support structures. This very common condition occurs when a pelvic organ like the bladder, uterus or rectum drops, or prolapses, from its normal position.
Often caused by pregnancy and childbirth, pelvic organ prolapse can also be a result of hysterectomy, chronic cough, chronic constipation, obesity, strenuous activity, smoking and poor tissue.
Symptoms A Woman May Experience with Prolapse
While many women do not notice symptoms, some may experience:
- Vaginal or pelvic pressure, bulge or pain, which may become worse with prolonged standing or walking
- Urinary incontinence, urgency, frequency, nocturia (urination at night), incomplete bladder emptying
- Constipation or incomplete bowel emptying
- Some women may have to splint, or support their pelvic floor, to completely empty their rectum or reduce the prolapse to completely empty their bladder.
How Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treated?
If you are experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, a urogynecologist, a physician who specializes in the care of women with pelvic floor disorders, can help.
A urogynecologist will thoroughly review your health history and perform a standardized prolapse exam. Additional procedures may be indicated to further evaluate the anatomy and function of your pelvic organs.
Your doctor may suggest some simple actions you can take to relieve your symptoms:
- Try Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid lifting heavy objects that put stress on pelvic muscles
- Drink less fluids—no more than 8, 8-ounce cups per day
- Train your bladder by urinating every 2-3 hours
If you continue to have symptoms, your doctor may recommend pelvic floor physical therapy or fitting you with a removable device called a pessary that helps hold your pelvic organs in place. Minimally invasive surgery is another option for women who experience more bothersome symptoms.
The bottom line is there are many options that allow you to live more comfortably with pelvic organ prolapse. Don’t suffer in silence. Find a urogynecologist here.