The various organs in the pelvic area are held in place by a system of supportive tissue and muscle. However, this support can break down and cause one or more of these organs to lose their position and drop toward or into the vaginal area. This is called pelvic organ prolapse. While pelvic organ prolapse may seem odd or abnormal, the truth is that it is far more common than many women may know. According to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) affects up to 50% of women in the US. It is especially common for women who have undergone a hysterectomy or those who have already gone through menopause.
Pelvic organ prolapse can affect the uterus, bladder, rectum, or part of the small intestine, as well as the top of the vagina (or vaginal vault) in women who have had a hysterectomy. Despite how common this condition is, some experts consider it a secret medical epidemic since it is so rarely spoken about publicly. That’s why our board-certified gynecologists are here to explain how you can identify and get treatment for pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse can occur without any noticeable symptoms, or only mild symptoms that come on gradually. Many women may not even be aware that they have experienced a prolapse. In some cases, a slight bulge can be felt inside the vagina. In more serious cases, women may experience a feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area, urinary incontinence, bowel issues, and more.
Although pelvic organ prolapse can be serious, it is treatable. Depending on each woman’s specific needs, there are a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatment options available. Determining the appropriate treatment plan depends on several factors including age, desire to become pregnant in the future, level of sexual activity, the severity of symptoms, and past medical history. In many cases, treatment begins with a non-surgical device called a pessary that can help provide support to the prolapsed organs. Depending on your condition, your gynecologist may also recommend self-care steps like Kegel exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. For those who are not able to treat the prolapse with non-surgical methods, there are gynecological surgery options available based on the severity and specifics of your condition.
If you suspect you may be dealing with pelvic organ prolapse, don’t panic. Our board-certified gynecologists have considerable experience diagnosing and treating pelvic organ prolapse regardless of its level of severity. Contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today to request an appointment. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips, news, and information on our upcoming health and wellness events.