May 26, 2021
Clinical contributors to this story
Nina Bhatia, MD contributes to topics such as Urogynecology.
While not a popular topic of conversation, pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the pelvic muscles can no longer support the pelvic organs, affects nearly half of women at some point in their lives.
“It’s a condition that women don’t talk about often. They may not present it to their doctor or talk to their friends about it, ”says Nina Bhatia, MD, urogenynecologist at Hackensack Meridian Health.
But there is no need to suffer in silence. This uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing condition is also very treatable. This is what you need to know about pelvic organ prolapse.
Although you may have no symptoms, you may notice:
- Feeling of pressure or lump in the vaginal or pelvic area, which may make it uncomfortable to sit or walk
- Vaginal dryness
- Problems with the bowels
- Urinary incontinence
- Low back pain
- Pain during sex
“There are many reasons why a woman may develop pelvic organ prolapse, which is why it is so common,” says Dr. Bhatia. These reasons include:
- Chronic constipation
Treatment options will depend on the stage of your prolapse and symptoms, as well as goals and other medical conditions. “This is not a unique situation for all prolapses,” says Dr. Bhatia.
Although surgery is considered the most definitive treatment option, it is not the only one. Other options include pelvic floor physiotherapy, pessaries (prosthetic devices that are inserted into the vagina to support its structure) or even a monitoring and observation approach. If you opt for surgery, it is often a minimally invasive procedure that is done on an outpatient basis.
Pelvic floor therapy
There is more to pelvic floor therapy than Kegel exercises. A pelvic floor therapist can help you identify relevant muscles and show you different techniques to help you strengthen them.
“Most of my patients do physical therapy at some point, either instead of surgery or after surgery to maintain the strength of the pelvic floor,” says Dr. Bhatia. Even if you don’t have prolapse, it’s a good option to help you strengthen your pelvic floor before you start noticing problems.
Above all, remember that pelvic organ prolapse can be fixed. “I think it’s important for women to know that, although it’s a common condition, they shouldn’t live together. We can treat it and we have so many different options to do it, ”says Dr. Bhatia.
Next steps and resources:
Material provided through HealthU is intended for use as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individualized care.