What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common disorder among women, especially those of childbearing age or those who have given birth through the vaginal route. It happens when the muscles and connective tissues around the pelvic organs (including the bladder, uterus, and rectum) weaken and collapse. This can lead to the organs descending into or possibly emerging from the vaginal canal.
Depending on what organ has descended, various forms of POP can be found. Cystocele is when the bladder protrudes into the vaginal wall at the front, while rectocele is when the rectum protrudes into the vaginal wall at the back. When the uterus prolapses, it falls into or even outside of the vagina.
Although many women with mild cases of POP may not experience any symptoms at all, others may develop discomforts like pressure in their pelvis, lower back pain, urinary leakage/incontinence during activities such as sneezing or coughing.
If you suspect that you might have POP based on your symptoms or medical history (such as having gone through menopause), consult your healthcare provider for an assessment and proper diagnosis methods!
Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Depending on which organ(s) have descended, a patient may be diagnosed with a certain type of POP..
The most common type of POP is cystocele, in which the bladder bulges into the front wall of the vagina. This can cause urinary problems such as difficulty emptying your bladder completely or leaking urine when you cough, sneeze or exercise.
Rectocele is another type of POP that occurs when the rectum protrudes into the back vaginal wall. This can cause constipation, difficulty passing stool and a feeling of incomplete bowel movement after using the toilet.
Uterine prolapse happens when your uterus drops down towards or even outside your vagina due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and ligaments. It may be accompanied by discomfort during sex and lower back pain.
Enterocele occurs when small intestine descends towards vaginal region causing pressure buildup inside abdominal cavity & uterus creating unbearable pain in women around 45-50 years age group
Vaginal vault prolapse occurs only in women who have had a hysterectomy -It’s seen mostly amongst young women as it could be because lack/prolonged healing after surgery leading to weakness in tissues surrounding area causing support for other organs weaker than usual
Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pregnancy and childbirth are just two of the many potential causes of prolapse of the pelvic organs. The uterus enlarges during pregnancy to make room for the developing baby. The pelvic floor muscles gradually atrophy under the uterus’s weight.
Vaginal delivery also contributes significantly to pelvic organ prolapse. During delivery, there is immense pressure exerted on the pelvic floor muscles that stretch and may even tear in some cases.
Other factors that contribute to this condition include obesity, chronic coughing or sneezing (as in asthma), constipation leading to straining during bowel movements, heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity that increases intra-abdominal pressure.
Age is another factor as menopause causes a decrease in estrogen levels which are responsible for maintaining vaginal elasticity and strength of its surrounding ligaments and tissues.
In rare cases, congenital defects or neurological disorders can also cause pelvic organ prolapse by affecting muscle control around the pelvis area. Understanding these risk factors can help women take preventive measures before symptoms arise.
Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms. It’s possible that some women won’t feel a thing, while others could be in a lot of agony. Typical signs include:
Women who suffer from pelvic organ prolapse often report feeling weighed down by a heavy, pressing sensation in their pelvis.
Pain during sex: As the organs shift and move out of place, intercourse can become uncomfortable or even painful.
Incontinence: The muscles that control bladder and bowel movements can weaken due to pelvic organ prolapse, leading to leakage or difficulty controlling urination or defecation.
Constipation: Women with pelvic organ prolapse may also suffer from constipation due to weakened muscles interfering with normal bowel functions.
Backache and leg pain: As the uterus descends into the vagina, it puts added pressure on nerves that run through the area. This can lead to backache or leg pain.
Women who have any of these symptoms should consult their doctor about what might be done to alleviate them.
Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
A complete pelvic examination is required to diagnose pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Before performing a physical examination, the doctor will go through the patient’s symptoms and medical history. To check for any shifts in prolapse, the doctor may have the patient bear down or cough in a variety of postures.
Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are two examples of imaging procedures that may be prescribed to help with a diagnosis. The pelvic organs and their placement within the body can be better visualized with the use of these diagnostic tools.
Urodynamic investigations and other specialized testing may also be used to assess bladder function and rule out other potential causes of POP symptoms.
People having POP symptoms should get medical help right away. Better results and fewer problems are possible with prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse treatment varies according to the severity and kind of prolapse. Weight loss and pelvic floor exercises may be all that’s needed for mild cases. Extreme cases may necessitate surgical intervention.
A pessary is a device that is put into the vagina to support organs that have shifted out of place, and it is one of the most prevalent non-surgical treatments. Finding the right sized and shaped pessary for a particular patient can take some experimentation.
The prolapsed organ(s) can be repaired by tightening the muscles around it during surgery, or the extra tissue can be removed or, in extreme circumstances, the uterus can be removed entirely.
Although surgery is a successful treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse, it is not without risk. Before making a final decision, patients should consult with their doctor about all available treatment choices.
Prevention of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Changing several behaviors and routines in your daily life can help you avoid developing pelvic organ prolapse. If you want to avoid getting this disease, keeping your weight in check is crucial. The risk of prolapse increases because of the strain that being overweight or obese places on the pelvic floor muscles.
Regular exercise that targets the pelvic floor muscles is another defense against prolapse. Specifically, Kegel exercises have been shown to strengthen these muscles and reduce the likelihood of prolapse.
In addition, you can lessen your risk of developing this illness by not lifting heavy objects or straining when you have to go to the bathroom. When lifting large objects, it’s important to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your back by failing to use your abdominal muscles.
As smoking damages tissues throughout the body, giving up the habit can also reduce the likelihood of getting pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is highly preventable with measures as basic as keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoiding heavy lifting, and giving up smoking.
Many women get pelvic organ prolapse after giving birth or entering menopause; this is especially true in developing countries. It develops when the muscles in the pelvic floor become too weak to properly support the pelvic organs.
Various forms of pelvic organ prolapse can affect a variety of pelvic organs. As with causes, the severity of the symptoms varies from patient to patient.
Patients with this illness are fortunate in that they have access to a variety of therapy choices. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need to undergo physical therapy, medication, or even surgery.
Although complete prevention of pelvic organ prolapse is unlikely, there are measures that can be taken to lessen the likelihood of it occurring. The pelvic floor muscles can be kept strong with a good diet and frequent exercise.
Do not delay in seeing a doctor if you have any reason to suspect you have pelvic organ prolapse or are experiencing any of the symptoms linked with this disorder. Symptoms might be reduced or avoided altogether with early diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to put yourself first by sticking to a healthy routine, as prevention is always preferable to treatment.