Pelvic Organ Prolapse: It’s A Female Thing

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is a medical condition typically affecting women. It occurs when the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs, including the uterus, bladder, or rectum, become weakened or loose. This can result in one or more pelvic organs dropping or pressing into or out of the vagina.

Who Does This Effects?

POP predominantly affects women who have experienced childbirth, particularly vaginal delivery, due to the strain placed on the pelvic muscles. Also, postmenopausal women are at a higher risk because of the decline in estrogen levels, which affects the strength of pelvic muscles. Furthermore, women who have undergone pelvic surgery, those with a family history of POP, and those who are overweight or engage in heavy lifting may also be more susceptible to the condition. It's worth noting that while these factors increase the risk, POP can occur in any woman, at any age.

Factors and Symptoms of POP

Factors contributing to this condition can range from childbirth and menopause to chronic diseases and surgeries. Symptoms of POP may include discomfort, a feeling of pressure in the pelvis, and issues with bowel movements or urination. However, many women with POP don't experience noticeable symptoms.

The symptoms of POP vary depending on the organs involved and the severity of the prolapse. Common signs include vaginal pressure, urinary or fecal incontinence, discomfort during intercourse or when moving around, a feeling that something is “falling out” from the vagina, difficulty passing urine or having bowel movements, and a bulge or lump in the vagina.

It's important to note that POP is not life-threatening but can have serious implications if left untreated. If you think you may be at risk of developing POP or are experiencing any symptoms, your doctor can examine and determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

Basic Treatment Options for POP

  1. Lifestyle Changes: This includes maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding heavy lifting, which can reduce pressure on the pelvic muscles. Regular physical activity and a balanced diet can contribute to overall pelvic health.
  2. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegel Exercises): These exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and alleviate symptoms of POP. They involve repeated contraction and relaxation of the muscles that support the pelvic organs. If you're unsure about how to do them or if you're doing them correctly, you should consult a healthcare provider or a physical therapist.
    1. Basic Kegels: This is the most basic form of pelvic floor exercise. To perform a basic Kegel exercise, contract or tighten your pelvic floor muscles as if trying to stop urinating mid-stream. Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds, then relax for an equal amount of time. Repeat this 10-15 times, three times a day.
    2. Squats: Squats are effective in strengthening the pelvic floor and buttocks. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and lower your body as if you are going to sit in a chair. Keep your chest lifted and your knees over your toes. Rise back up and repeat.
    3. Bridge Pose: This yoga pose can also help strengthen the pelvic floor. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor comfortably, squeezing your glutes at the top. Lower back down and repeat.
  3. Pessary Devices: A pessary is a removable device inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs. It can provide temporary or long-term relief from symptoms.
  4. Surgery: Surgery may be recommended in severe cases to repair the weakened pelvic floor muscles. The type of surgery depends on the type and severity of the prolapse and other individual health factors.

Please remember it's important to talk with your healthcare professional to decide on the best treatment plan for your condition and lifestyle.

Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse

While not all instances of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) can be entirely prevented, there are proactive measures that can significantly reduce your risk or slow its progression. The key is to lessen undue stress on your pelvic muscles.

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity can put excessive pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce your risk.
  2. Avoid Heavy Lifting: Regular heavy lifting can strain your pelvic muscles over time. If your work or daily activities involve heavy lifting, consider using supportive devices or proper lifting techniques to minimize stress on the pelvic muscles.
  3. Regular Check-ups: Regular gynecological examinations can help detect early signs of POP, enabling timely intervention and preventing further progression.
  4. Manage Chronic Cough: A persistent cough, common in smokers and those with lung conditions, can cause repetitive straining of the pelvic muscles. If you have a chronic cough, seek treatment to manage it.
  5. Bowel Management: Chronic constipation and straining during bowel movements can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. A diet rich in fiber can help prevent constipation.

Remember, these are general recommendations and might not necessarily prevent POP in all circumstances. Always consult your healthcare provider for professional medical advice tailored to your health history and lifestyle.

In conclusion, POP can be distressing for women, but it is manageable with the right treatment. By understanding risk factors and being aware of symptoms, women can start their journey toward recovery and improved quality of life.  If you're experiencing any concerns of possible pelvic organ prolapse, it's essential to get medical attention. Schedule an appointment with one of Mississippi Urology Clinic's Urologists today to get help keeping your urinary system healthy.


Take Control of Your Health

Book an appointment today and let one of our physicians examine your urological health. We are committed to providing you with the latest and most advanced healthcare.