What Is the Most Common Symptom of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
While it’s a condition that isn’t widely discussed, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is much more common than people think. In fact, 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 reports suffering from a pelvic floor disorder. Unfortunately, many women are too embarrassed to discuss it and may even delay treatment.
While many women experience pelvic organ prolapse after childbirth or menopause, it can be related to other risk factors, including chronic constipation, pelvic tumors, chronic cough, as well as obesity. That’s because all these conditions cause pressure on the pelvic organs, which contributes to POP. Additionally, aging and undergoing a hysterectomy are also known to contribute to pelvic organ prolapse because they weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
Fortunately, women who struggle with POP have treatment options available. A consultation with your gynecologist can help you determine the next steps. If you suspect you have pelvic organ prolapse, call your doctor to discuss your options.
Understanding Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Your Doctor Visit
Put simply, POP is when the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman’s pelvic organs weaken, causing the organs to drop lower in the pelvis and create a vaginal bulge (prolapse). This weakening most commonly occurs years after menopause, a hysterectomy, or childbirth. If a woman begins to feel pressure in her pelvic area, it’s time to see a healthcare provider.
Again, many women keep their own POP condition under wraps because it can feel awkward or embarrassing to discuss. However, it’s important for women who think they may have pelvic organ prolapse to feel comfortable acknowledging their health issues. This starts with an honest discussion of what POP is.
What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
If you suspect you have prolapse after childbirth (postpartum prolapse) or other weak pelvic floor symptoms as a female, know that your gynecologist is here to help you. During your consultation, your doctor will diagnose your condition and then have an open conversation with you about your treatment options. Remember, millions of women in the United States have overcome or managed pelvic organ prolapse, and you can, too, with a little help.
When It’s Time to See a Doctor for POP and Available Treatments
Because POP typically occurs after childbirth, menopause, or some other medical milestone, many women aren’t sure when to see a doctor because they make incorrect assumptions about their symptoms. Advanced Gynecology has identified some of the most common symptoms of POP.
Weak Pelvic Floor Symptoms in Females
Even though they may be uncomfortable to discuss, you’ll be glad you learned more about what pelvic organ prolapse looks like so that you can take the next step forward. Here are the most common symptoms of POP:
- Pressure in the pelvic region even with an empty bladder
- Pressure or stretching sensation in the groin area
- Low back pain
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s time to consider a consultation with your gynecologist to figure out treatment. Your doctor will work with you to prescribe a plan that is right for you. This could involve anything from pelvic floor exercises (barre and Pilates) to pelvic floor surgery, which is necessary if your prolapse causes pain or if you need additional help managing your symptoms. Here are a few treatments for mild pelvic organ prolapse that are designed to improve your symptoms and quality of life:
- Weight loss
- Kegel exercises
- Yoga focusing on the pelvic floor
- Changing your nutrition and diet
- Pessaries, or silicon devices that are applied vaginally to support the pelvic organs without surgery
Here are a few treatments patients choose if they are struggling with a more severe form of pelvic organ prolapse:
- Pelvic floor surgery
- Hysterectomy (for uterine prolapse)
- Sacrocolpopexy (for women who risk repeat prolapse)
Additionally, if you’ve struggled with pelvic organ prolapse, here are a few ways to help prevent it in the future:
- Weight loss
- Smoking cessation
- Protection of your pelvic floor by pulling in your lower abdominal muscles each time you stand or lift objects
Because pelvic organ prolapse is a common problem among women, gynecologists now have several treatments at their disposal to meet POP sufferers where they are on their journeys. For more information about POP, contact Advanced Gynecology to learn more. We can provide you with several resources that may help you address your specific condition.