Pelvic organ prolapse is when the pelvis muscles no longer can support the organs inside. When the pelvis muscles become weakened the organs push down on the vagina causing sometimes extreme pressure or discomfort. Pelvic organ prolapse is a pelvic floor disorder and can include organs such as the bladder, rectum or uterus. This pelvic floor disorder affects about every one in five women. It is more common in older women due to the fact the pelvic floor muscles become weakened with age.
Besides age the most common cause of pelvic organ prolapse is pregnancy. Having a difficult vaginal delivery puts you at a much higher risk of developing prolapse. Another risk could be if you have a hysterectomy. Something besides increasing age that can cause you to develop prolapse are obesity, if you suffer from constipation, have pelvic organ cancer, or extreme hormonal changes.
The most common organs that are affected by pelvic organ prolapse is a dropped bladder, rectocele, or a dropped uterus. If you are suffering from one of these you may have a variety of symptoms. Symptoms can be mild or extreme depending on the severity of the prolapse. Symptoms can include pressure in your pelvic area, or a low back ache. Other symptoms may include painful intercourse or spotting and bleeding from the vagina. You may experience a feeling as though something is falling out of your vagina. You may also experience the chronic urge to pee, leaking urine, or constipation. If you are having any or all of these symptoms you will want to talk to your healthcare provider.
If you are experiencing these symptoms your doctor will want to run some tests on you to diagnose you. They may start with just a simple exam and talking to you about your symptoms and history. After that to be more conclusive they may order one of the following, a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI of the pelvis. After you are diagnosed and it shows what type of prolapse you have, either bladder, rectum, or uterus your doctor will come up with a treatment plan.
Prolapse can be treated and cured. If you have it at one stage in your life you can correct it with the right treatment. The main thing to try and do is maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight. Your doctor may tell you to do pelvic floor exercises. This includes Kegel exercises. This best way to go about doing Kegel exercises, is to identify your pelvic floor muscles. The best way to do that is to stop your urination midstream. This will help you feel where those muscles are located, from there you can continue with other exercises. You can do Kegel exercises anywhere at any time. All you have to do is tighten those muscles for thirty seconds then release. You can do this throughout the day. Kegel exercises will show results in a few weeks, to a few months depending on how often you do them. If your prolapse is due to constipation you will want to change your diet to avoid constipation. If your prolapse is severe your doctor may give you a pessary. This is a little implantation ring that inserts into your vagina to help hold up your organs that are dropped down. Your doctor may implant this in the office for you, or you can implant it yourself when you are doing activities that aggravate your prolapse. If none of these help you, there is always surgery to help tighten your pelvic floor muscles. This is extreme and usually doesn’t happen.
Pelvic organ prolapse though common among women is easily diagnosed, and easily treated. So if you are suffering from urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or have pelvic organ displacement, make sure you talk to your doctor because this is treatable. You don’t need to live with these symptoms that are related to prolapse. Treatment should show results as soon as a few weeks if done consistently.
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