Pelvic Organ Prolapse

If you have pelvic organ prolapse, you know about the frustrating incontinence, frequent UTIs and other troubling symptoms. We’re here for you. Spectrum Health urogynecologists  specialize in knowing every treatment and corrective technique to help you feel your best.

The pelvic floor holds the uterus, bladder, bowel and other pelvic organs so they work properly. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause pelvic organ prolapse. Other causes are being overweight, radiation treatments, surgery and getting older.

Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse calls for the help of a specialist. Look for a urogynecologist, or a gynecologist who specializes in prolapse. Let's discuss your treatment options. There are a lot of options available with our specialists to restore your comfort and correct the prolapse. 

Knowing that you've chosen a doctor who specializes in the exact combination of medical know-how you need, there's a lot to feel good about. Get started with more treatment information here.

Biofeedback is a mind-body technique that may be used to monitor your progress as you work to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse Surgery
Pelvic organ prolapse can be surgically repaired using stitches or surgical mesh. This surgery is performed either through the vagina or the abdomen.

A pessary is a removable device that is inserted into the vagina. It is designed to support the pelvic organ or organs that have prolapsed, keeping them in place.

Physical Therapy
Your doctor may work with you on physical therapy for pelvic organ prolapse, including exercises to strengthen specific muscles of the pelvic floor.

What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The uterus, bladder, and rectum near the vaginal canal can push through (prolapse) into this canal. A bulging uterus is called uterine prolapse. A bladder prolapse is a cystocele. A prolapsed rectum is a rectocele. The prolapsed organ can cause tissue to bulge out of the vagina. Women may first notice something like a ball of tissue coming out of the vagina. Most rectoceles occur in women. Rarely, men may have rectoceles.

What Causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The most common cause is childbirth because it stretches muscles that support pelvic organs. Normal aging and menopause (change of life) contribute to prolapse. Levels of estrogen, which strengthen muscles near the bladder, rectum, and vagina, decrease with menopause. Being overweight, lifting heavy objects, having long-lasting cough, straining during bowel movements (from constipation), and cancers also cause prolapses.

What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Mild or moderate prolapses may cause pelvic pressure, low backache, pain, or feeling that something is falling out. Urine may leak, especially with coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Rectoceles can cause bowel movement problems.

Severe prolapses also cause a feeling of fullness in the abdomen (belly) or a bulge that may go away when lying down. Other symptoms are problems emptying the bladder or having bowel movements, pelvic pain, abdominal discomfort, urgent or painful urination, and problems during sex.

How Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Diagnosed?

The health care provider will make a diagnosis from a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. To help diagnose prolapse your health care provider may ask you to strain (i.e., push as if you’re trying to pass stool or urinate). Urine and blood tests may be done. Ultrasonography and voiding cystogram (cystourethrogram) may also be done. The cystogram is an x-ray taken during urination to show bladder shape.

How Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treated?

More severe prolapses with pelvic organ bulges need treatment. Mild to moderate prolapses (no organ bulges) and no symptoms need no treatment, just watching. Straining during bowel movements, heavy lifting, coughing, and constipation should be avoided. Eating high-fiber foods can help constipation. Kegel exercises involve tightening pelvic floor muscles and can help symptoms. These exercises strengthen muscles supporting the bladder and vagina. If Kegel exercises don’t help, physical therapy (biofeedback, electrical stimulation) may. If all these treatments don’t work, a pessary (plastic or rubber ring fitted into the vagina) can hold the bladder in place. Women after menopause may take hormone replacement therapy to help strengthen muscles. Surgery can be done when the pessary doesn’t fit properly or if there is more than one prolapsed organ. Surgery may hold the bladder in the correct position.

DOs and DON’Ts in Managing Pelvic Organ Prolapse:
  • DO Kegel exercises as directed. Do them when you lift anything heavy (books, luggage, groceries, baby) or when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.
  • DO call your health care provider if you have trouble emptying your bladder, you see vaginal bleeding, or your pessary falls out or isn’t comfortable.
  • DO eat a healthy diet with lots of fiber, fruits, and vegetables and drink plenty of liquids to prevent constipation.
  • DO treat chronic cough. Don’t smoke. Smoking can cause chronic cough.
  • DO keep to a healthy body weight.
  • DON’T lift heavy objects (more than 20 to 25 pounds).

Contact the following source:

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    Tel: (202) 638-5577

Copyright © 2016 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.

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