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Prelvic Organ Prolapse: Symptoms and Treatment

Prelvic Organ Prolapse: Symptoms and Treatment

What to look for and what you can do about it

Your Body

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the organs in your pelvis — your uterus, vagina, bladder, urethra, rectum or bowels — descend into or even out of the vaginal canal.

Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse

  • Feeling of pelvic fullness or pressure
  • Feeling as if a tampon is falling out
  • Incontinence
  • Discomfort with intercourse
  • Pain or bleeding from the vagina (not menstrually related)
  • Lower back pain
  • Constipation

Treatment for pelvic organ prolapse

Treatment for POP depends on the type of prolapse you have.

Non-surgical options to treat pelvic organ prolapse

  • Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor, which can help you keep your organs in the pelvic region. Pull in or squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine or keep from passing gas. Count to 10 as you hold the contraction, relax, then repeat. Aim for at least three sets of 10 contractions a day. Many women need the help of a professional pelvic floor therapist to learn how to do these correctly.
  • Pessaries. Silicon rings can be painlessly placed in the vagina to support the pelvic organs. While a pessary isn't a cure, it can help reduce your symptoms and delay or even prevent surgery.

Surgical options to treat pelvic organ prolapse

Although hysterectomy is still commonly performed in women with symptomatic POP, there are numerous other surgical procedures available. Which one your healthcare provider recommends depends on your condition and the specific type of prolapse. Surgeries can be performed through an abdominal incision, laparoscopically (through a small incision in your belly) or vaginally.

The goal of surgery is to reposition the prolapsed organs and secure them to the surrounding tissues and ligaments. Sometimes synthetic mesh is used to hold the organs in place, while surgery is designed to strengthen the pelvic floor itself.

Questions to ask your healthcare provider about pelvic organ prolapse

  1. What type of POP do I have? Do I have more than one type?
  2. What treatment do you recommend to treat my prolapse?
  3. What is the success rate of the treatment you recommend? What are the benefits and potential risks?
  4. Can you treat my prolapse, or do I need a referral to a provider who regularly treats patients with my condition?
  5. How many patients with prolapse do you see a month?
  6. How many procedures do you perform on a monthly basis to treat prolapse?
  7. What are my treatment options if I still want to have children?
  8. Will treatment affect my sexual function?
  9. How soon after treatment can I return to my daily activities?

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