Although it’s not necessarily typical, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can have severe consequences if left untreated. Understanding POP is essential to help avoid complications and improve your quality of life. The blog post will cover everything you need to know about pelvic organ prolapse in women.
1. Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)?
Pelvic organ prolapse can occur due to weakening or herniating pelvic floor muscles, and the vagina, bladder, uterus, or rectum walls push down and out of their normal position. That can lead to severe pain and discomfort and a feeling of pressure or fullness in the vaginal area. When this happens, it can also cause issues with urination and bowel movements. The weight of the organs pushes against your stomach, which causes you to lose control over your body’s functions.
Pelvic organ prolapse can affect both women and men, but it’s more common in women due to specific structural differences between the genders, childbearing factors, and other factors. However, your doctor can help you explore the most effective prolapse treatment options depending on your type of prolapse and its severity. Thankfully, most cases of pelvic organ prolapse are treatable conservatively by following a special diet and lifestyle regimen, including exercises for strengthening your abdominal muscles. Surgery may take place in more severe cases where conservative treatment has failed.
2. Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse can affect various parts:
- Rectocele prolapses- Occur when the rectum falls to the vaginal entrance
- Cystocele prolapses- Occurs when the bladder drops from the front into the vagina
- Uterine prolapses- Happen when the uterus moves out of place and down into or outside of the vagina
Symptoms can include urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, constipation, pain during intercourse, or difficulty having a bowel movement. Patients may not know they have an organ prolapse unless it is very severe because their symptoms may be subtle or intermittent. It’s, therefore, crucial to seek help from a professional like the pelvic floor physiotherapist if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
3. Causes and Treatment Options Organ Prolapse in Women
Pelvic organ prolapse involves dropping one or more pelvic organs (such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum) into or out of their usual place and falling to the vagina. The most common risk factors for developing pelvic organ prolapse include;
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Menopause/hormone changes
- Chronic coughing from smoking or asthma
- Other conditions that cause pressure on the abdomen, such as straining to empty the bowel
The condition can also be due to various conditions, such as uterine fibroids. Treatments for pelvic organ prolapse may include pelvic floor exercises, medications, surgery, or a combination of these treatments. Professional pelvic floor physiotherapists can teach women how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through controlled exercises to treat and prevent prolapse, which involves contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.
4. How Can One Prevent Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is caused by weakening the pelvic floor muscles and support tissues, which can lead to the bladder, rectum, or uterus prolapsing. To prevent this, women should perform pelvic floor exercises regularly, even when they are not pregnant, and maintain a healthy weight. Experts advise women who have had pelvic surgery to perform controlled pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic floor exercises also help with strengthening and preparing for childbirth. These exercises also prevent mild organ prolapse from worsening into more severe cases. However, women must learn how to perform pelvic floor exercises correctly so that their organs stay put. Consult your pelvic floor physiotherapist if you don’t know the correct way to do them.
5. You are Not Alone
When you experience symptoms of organ prolapse, it’s crucial to know that there are professionals who can help. Pelvic floor therapists have undergone training in the anatomy and function of the pelvic floor muscles and how they work together with ligaments, fascia, nerves, and blood vessels. They also study how these factors interact and other systems like the urinary tract and bowel.
With this knowledge and skills, they can design a treatment plan for their patient’s specific needs. You can also interact with communities of other women going through the same thing by joining an online support group or talking to someone close to you.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, and uterus) slip down into or protrude out of the vagina. It can happen during pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause, or due to other reasons discussed above. Although it’s common, many women are unaware of their condition. A regular check-up with a pelvic floor physiotherapist is essential for anyone who has experienced any symptoms: leakage from the bladder or bowels, a bulge at the vaginal opening, abdominal pain or pressure on the lower back, persistent urinary tract infections, or chronic constipation.