Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Have you felt pressure in your pelvic area that won't go away? Pain or discomfort with intercourse? Does it constantly feel like you are wearing a tampon that’s falling out? Have you noticed lately that you're having some loss of bladder control? Perhaps you have difficulty passing stool? If you said yes to any of these questions, it's time schedule a visit to determine if you have pelvic organ prolapse.
The organs in your pelvic cavity—uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum—are held in place by a web of muscles and connective tissues that act like a hammock. When these muscles and tissues become weakened or damaged (typically during childbirth), one or more of the pelvic organs drop out of normal position and literally fall into the vagina. As a result, the organs may press against the vaginal wall and produce a hernia-like bulge causing discomfort, limiting sexual and physical activity or impaired bladder or bowel function.
As we live longer and remain active during these later years, studies show that about 11% of women will need treatment of their prolapse. The kind of treatment your doctor may suggest for you will be determined by the degree and type of prolapse you have. Mild prolapse will often respond to Kegel exercises. A non surgical approach of using a Pessary (a plastic device worn in the vagina at all times) may be the best solution for some women. Women who feel their condition compromises their quality of life may want to consider pelvic repair surgery. Prolapse repairs can be done through the vagina. During the procedure, the surgeon repositions the prolapsed organs and secures them to surrounding tissues and ligaments. Increasingly we use synthetic mesh, such as that for abdominal hernia repairs, creating a “hammock” to lift the prolapsed organ and return it to it’s normal position. This is better than traditionally surgery that uses already weakened tissues, resulting in a more durable repair. With the newer minimally invasive treatments, surgery time is reduced, recovery time is quicker and most women experience less pain and more rapid return to regular activities.