Do you suffer from pelvic organ prolapse? You are not alone.
Pelvic organ prolapse is more common than you might think, and its incidence increases after having children and as women get older. In fact, believe it or not, it is estimated that almost 50% of all women between the ages of 50 and 79 have some form of prolapse. In the average woman’s lifespan, the risk that surgery will be required to correct pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence is about 11%, or more than one in 10 women.
An estimated 300,000 procedures for the correction of pelvic organ prolapse are performed by doctors in the United States each year, but many more female patients suffer from this condition silently, without seeking medical help. Here at Zeid Women’s Health Center, we encourage anyone experiencing the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse to make an appointment to speak with us as soon as possible, so that we can help alleviate the discomfort of this condition.
What Is It?
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when there is weakness or damage to the regular support of the pelvic floor. The pelvic organs include the vagina, cervix, uterus, bladder, urethra, intestines, and rectum. These pelvic organs are normally held in place by the muscles of the pelvic floor and layers of connective tissue called fascia.
When the muscles and the fascia can no longer support the pelvic organs, the result is pelvic organ prolapse. When the muscles and fascia become weakened, stretched or torn, the organs begin to drop downward.
What Causes It?
Injuries to the muscles or fascia of the pelvic floor are usually due to women having children, especially through vaginal or operative vaginal deliveries. Pelvic organ prolapse can also be caused by menopause, intense physical activity, and aging. Other issues that lead to increasing amounts of pressure on the abdomen can worsen or lead to pelvic organ prolapse, as well, such as obesity, smoking, heavy lifting, chronic constipation, and chronic coughing. Women who are obese have a 40 to 75% increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse. In some instances, pelvic organ prolapse is a hereditary disorder.
Women who have mild pelvic organ prolapse often have no symptoms at all. Those with moderate or severe cases, however, complain of a bulge near the opening of their vagina, or experience an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in their pelvic area/lower abdominal region. If you find you are unable to wear a tampon, you are experiencing urinary and/or fecal incontinence, vaginal dryness or irritation, or pain during intercourse, you may have pelvic organ prolapse. If you have any of these symptoms, describing them to one of our OB/GYNs is the first step towards resolving your discomfort.
Pelvic organ prolapse is usually diagnosed through a simple pelvic exam. Our physicians use a system of measurements called the “pelvic organ qualification” or POP-Q system exam, to allow them to track changes and assess the severity of the prolapse.
Not all solutions are surgical ones. Alternatives to surgery do exist, such as inserting a pessary to support the pelvic organs. Ask one of our doctors today about your options.
If you are experiencing pain or pressure in your pelvic region, or urinary incontinence, schedule an appointment with one of our OB/GYN physicians at Zeid Women’s Health Center today. We would be happy to help you improve your quality of life by taking steps to mitigate your prolapse.
If you are a new patient, please refer to our new patients page before arriving for your appointment. For hours and directions to one of our three different East Texas gynecology offices located in Longview, Tyler, and Henderson, head over to our contact page.