Pelvic Organ Prolapse Month
June is known for celebrating the beginning of summer, graduations and Father’s Day but it also is an opportunity to recognize a common female condition that receives little acknowledgement: pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the muscles of the pelvic floor do not adequately support the pelvic organs and one or more descend from their normal position into the vaginal canal. In advanced cases, the organs may push through the vaginal canal and bulge outside of the body. It is estimated that up to 50% of women will experience some degree of POP in their lifetime, however, the true prevalence of POP is unknown as many women do not seek help out of limited awareness or embarrassment.
Prolapse can occur in different areas of the vagina: 1) the bladder can bulge against the front of the vaginal canal (cystocele), 2) the uterus can drop into the vaginal canal (uterine prolapse), 3) the rectum can bulge against the back of the vaginal canal (rectocele), or 4) the intestines can drop into the vaginal canal.
Symptoms of POP are usually measured by stages of 0-4 depending on how far the pelvic organ is bulging against or out of the vaginal canal. The stage can improve with exercise and lifestyle changes. Some women do not know they have POP and do not experience the symptoms of POP. Many of the women who do experience symptoms often feel confused or embarrassed because these symptoms can occur with everyday activities.
Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
- Feeling or seeing something “falling out” of your vagina
- Experiencing a bulging sensation in your vagina, especially with physical activity or with bowel movements
- Having a sensation of pelvic heaviness or low back pain temporarily associated with a bulge or a falling out feeling.
- Leaking urine when standing up from the toilet
- Feeling the need to apply manual pressure to your perineum or vagina to assist with emptying your bladder or your bowel
If you have experienced these symptoms and they are more noticeable after abdominal straining (coughing or heavy lifting) or after prolonged standing, then you may have some degree of POP. Fortunately, the good news is that POP can be treated successfully with simple lifestyle changes and pelvic floor physical therapy. You are not alone.There are several studies that demonstrate pelvic floor muscular training can decrease mild prolapse symptoms, can prevent progression, and can alleviate pelvic heaviness complaints. At Colorado in Motion, our pelvic health therapists are specially trained to evaluate and treat your pelvic floor muscles and issues commonly related to pelvic organ prolapse.
Give us a call 970-221-1201 to schedule an appointment with one of our Pelvic Health experts, Dr. Beth Dessner or Dr. Gina Yeager