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Pelvic Organ Prolapse: You Ought to Know

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

A Few Points to Help You Understand This Issue Inside and Out
  • About a quarter of the population will deal with this at some point in their lives

  • Many falsely believe it’s only a concern during childbirth

  • What you should know and what you can do

Happens to the Best of Us

Pelvic organ prolapse is a surprisingly common condition that can affect anyone with a vagina. It is so common in fact, that about 50% of women ages 50+ experience it to some degree.

But what is prolapse?

There is a hammock-like muscle that sits in the pelvic area holding all of the organs around it in place. This is called your pelvic floor muscle.

Like any muscle it can become weak or injured, resulting in an inability to properly support those organs anymore. Causing them to descend or "prolapse" into the vaginal canal.

Prolapse is often misunderstood and it probably isn’t top of mind for most people. Many who have heard of vaginal or uterine prolapse think it only happens during childbirth. But in reality, prolapse can occur from multiple different factors.

Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pregnancy and childbirth: The muscles and tissues in the pelvic area can become stretched or damaged during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to weakened pelvic floor muscles.

Age: The natural aging process can cause the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area to weaken over time.

Hormonal changes: Decreased estrogen levels can lead to changes in the pelvic tissues, making them more susceptible to prolapse.

Chronic constipation or heavy lifting: Straining during bowel movements or lifting heavy objects regularly can put increased pressure on the pelvic organs and weaken the pelvic floor muscles.

Stages and Types of Prolapse

Pelvic Organ Prolapse can cause discomfort, pain, and other symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition.

With 4 different stages

Stage 1 prolapse that does not give a woman any symptoms would likely just be observed over time.

Stage 2 prolapse of one area of the vagina would require a conservative surgical repair.

Stage 3 prolapse of the pelvic organs would require a more aggressive repair.

Stage 4 prolapse often requires surgery.

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area

  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse

  • Vaginal or pelvic pain

  • A bulging or protrusion from the vaginal opening. Often making it feel like you are sitting on a ball.

  • Urinary symptoms, such as urinary incontinence or frequent urination

  • Bowel symptoms, such as constipation

  • Treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse depend on the severity of the condition, the presence of symptoms, and the individual's overall health and preferences.

Treatment Options for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

You’re probably wondering how to avoid ever needing this knowledge. Below I’ve listed some things you can do to dodge this particular obstacle or alleviate your situation if you deal with prolapses.

Pelvic floor exercises: Also known as Kegel exercises, these exercises can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and improve their ability to support the pelvic organs.

Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting, and managing chronic constipation, can help reduce the risk of POP and manage symptoms.

Vaginal pessary: A vaginal pessary is a device that can be inserted into the vagina to provide support to the pelvic organs

Hormone replacement therapy: For women who are experiencing prolapse due to hormonal changes, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the pelvic tissues and reduce the risk of prolapse.

Surgical options: In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or reinforce the weakened pelvic tissues and provide support to the pelvic organs. There are several surgical options available, including minimally invasive procedures and more complex surgeries, and the appropriate approach will depend on the individual's specific condition and overall health.

That’s Half the Battle

So now ya know. Pelvic organ prolapse can happen to any of the organs in the pelvic region; vagina, uterus, small intestine, rectum, and bladder. You can help your body by working out your pelvic floor and eating healthy.

Simple, right?

Only if you can balance what you know, what you should do, and what you actually do. Getting that knowledge is sometimes hard to fit into a tight schedule. And most people don’t go about their day thinking, “I’ve got to do laundry, hit up IKEA, and secure my body against vaginal prolapse.”

In fact, about half the population (men) basically never consider it and of the other half, half of them live it. A pinch of prevention goes a long way when it comes to prolapse.


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