One of out four women 20 years or older is going to suffer from a Pelvic Floor Disorder within their lifetime. Whether that's you, a friend, or a family member, searching for medical treatment is essential. Through this blog, we’ll discuss a common pelvic floor disorder – pelvic organ prolapse – including causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is similar to a hernia where weak areas of the pelvic floor cause an organ or many organs to fall through the pelvic region. POP is typically diagnosed during a pelvic exam, which is usually done by a physician or a Pelvic Floor Specialist (urogynecologist). Specialists must be board certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) through the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG). At Metro OBGYN, we have two inaugural physicians in this particular specialty, Dr. Ron Mjanger and Dr. Kevin Hallman.
Once an assessment is done, the next step is to consider which treatment option is right for you.
As these issues tend to be embarrassing (and quite uncomfortable), many women often seek help to alleviate any discomfort.
Conservative Treatment Options
Not all POPs are going to require surgery right away, which means conservative (non-surgical) treatment options are going to be the first step towards recovery. Depending on the severity of a woman's POP, options such as physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and the use of vaginal devices may help ease discomfort. Although, many women eventually go on to have surgery if they are unable to get their symptoms under control.
Non-surgical treatment options include:
- Observation or Monitoring
- Physical Therapy
- Vaginal Devices
- Lifestyle Changes
Observing symptoms and the issues resulting in POP may improve the quality of life for many women. If the prolapse does not have much discomfort, holding off on treatment and monitoring your experience may be recommended by your Pelvic Floor Specialist.
A change in lifestyle may also help women suffering from prolapse. These changes may include a healthier diet and an increase in exercise and activities.
Health issues that involve repeated straining due to obesity, chronic cough, constipation, and repetitive heavy lifting may increase symptoms of POP. At that point, it may be best to seek assistance with a physical therapist. A certified and specially-trained physical therapist can assess to determine if physical therapy is the right option for treatment.
Examples of physical therapy techniques may include:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: Helps to strengthen the pelvic floor, but some women seek PT to perform Kegels correctly.
- Biofeedback: Helps by using different types of devices that give information about how the pelvic muscles are contracting and working. Vaginal weight training is another biofeedback option.
- Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation: Helps to deliver electrical stimulation through a series of in-office treatments.
Beyond the options for physical therapy, vaginal devices such as a pessary help to control symptoms. Pessaries are a silicone-based insert that is worn inside the vagina to alleviate issues with vaginal prolapse or rectocele prolapse.
If you've exhausted all conservative treatment options, speaking with your provider about surgical therapies is going to be the next step towards recovery.
Surgical Treatment Options
In the United States, the American Urogynecologic Society states that roughly 300,000 surgeries are performed for POP-related symptoms. Depending on your anatomy, overall health, medical conditions, and desire to regain sexual functions, there are three surgical treatment options for pelvic reconstruction.
Three types of pelvic reconstructive surgery include:
- Apical Suspensions: Restores support to the vaginal apex.
- Anterior Vaginal Prolapse Repair: Repairs a cystocele (bulge) of the front vaginal wall which then supports the bladder.
- Posterior Vaginal Prolapse Repair: Repairs a rectocele (bulge) of the back vaginal wall, which then supports the muscles of the vagina that may have been stretched during childbirth.
Operations only become an option when all of the conservative treatments have failed to ease discomfort and pain. Working with a Pelvic Floor Specialist will give you insight into the right procedure to make for yourself.
Stop Suffering from POP Symptoms and Consult Metro OBGYN
If you’re suffering from symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse, you’re not alone. We’re here to guide you through treatment. Speak with one of our providers about surgery options at Metro OBGYN.
Visit your nearest clinic location, and we’ll get you back on track to living your life and improving your health.
If you're looking for more information about PFDs or POP, download our complete guide: Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Restoring Normal Anatomy Without Transvaginal Mesh below!