Guest Post: Article on Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Hello readers! I have been asked to host an article on Pelvic Organ Prolapse. This may not be something you have even heard of and many women don’t until much later in life. The information below is important to be aware of, especially if you are a provider, thinking of having children, or have had children. My aunt actually just went through more than one surgery to repair her POP. She had NO symptoms!! Please leave comments and thoughts.

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Staying Informed about Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that a lot of women will have trouble with over the course of their lifetimes, so learning why it happens, the signs to look for, and the safest and most effective treatments for the disorder are important for all. Many women haven’t heard of POP, and many of those who have are under the impression that this pelvic floor disorder is fairly rare, since it isn’t one of those conditions that doctors warn patients about as a matter of routine, like cervical cancer or gestational diabetes, for instance.

However, POP is very common and if you’ve had children, you’re at risk, since POP affects about half of all childbearing women. So if your doctor hasn’t broached the subject, you should ask about it and make sure you’re checked for the early signs of POP.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse: How it Happens and Who is at Risk

Pelvic organ prolapse happens when the pelvic floor is weakened or stretched, compromising its ability to support the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, uterus and rectum. When this happens, one or more of these organs can slip downward, away from its proper position, to place pressure on the vagina.

While many women who suffer some degree of POP have no symptoms, others can experience problems that vary in intensity from mild symptoms to severe ones that interfere with day-to-day life. These can include pain and pressure in the pelvic region, vaginal bleeding or spotting, urinary incontinence, difficult bowel movements and pain during sex. Women may develop a lump in the vaginal area, or tissue may begin to protrude from the vaginal opening.

The most common cause of the pelvic floor damage that leads to POP is the strain involved with pregnancy and childbirth, but other factors can contribute, such as heavy lifting, high-impact sports, chronic coughing or frequent constipation. Symptoms often appear during menopause, since hormone changes can cause further weakening in an already compromised pelvic floor.

Treatments

Pelvic organ prolapse symptoms can often be reduced with a treatment plan that includes:

  • Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the affected muscles, preferably with the help of a physical therapist.
  • Weight loss to reduce pressure on the pelvic area.
  • Dietary changes to address issues that can aggravate symptoms, such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies and constipation.
  • A pessary, which is a medical device that is inserted into the vagina to support the organs.

Women who find no relief with these methods may need to consider surgery. If surgery is recommended for you, make sure you are aware of all your options, because some procedures carry more risk than others.

For example, POP procedures that use transvaginal mesh — in which a piece of surgical mesh is inserted through the vagina to support pelvic organs — have a higher risk of serious complications than traditional surgeries that don’t use mesh. These problems have prompted Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety warnings on these devices.

Among the most common problems reported are mesh erosion, protrusion into vaginal walls, and mesh contraction, all of which can cause intense pain and require surgical correction. Many women who suffer after transvaginal mesh surgery have filed transvaginal mesh lawsuits against the mesh manufacturers.
Author Bio:Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and medication safety for Drugwatch.com.

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