Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when your pelvic organs descend abnormally from their normal attachment sites and normal positions in your pelvis. Pelvic organ prolapse can be very uncomfortable in later stages. It usually affects you after childbirth and menopause. When you pelvic muscles weaken and allow your bladder, uterus, or rectum to fall or sink into your vagina, you are experiencing a prolapse of your pelvic organs.
Rectal prolapse in men and vaginal prolapse in women occurs as your tissues lose elasticity with age. Studies have shown that half of women who give birth to one or more babies vaginally will experience prolapse. After giving birth two times, you are eight times more likely to have a prolapse as a woman who has never given birth vaginally. After giving birth four times, you are twelve times more likely to suffer from prolapse. If you deliver a baby that is heavier than nine pounds you are also at increased risk for pelvic organ prolapse. A side effect of going through menopause is a drop in collagen levels. Collagen is a protein that naturally occurs in your body. Collagen helps your connective tissue repair itself after stretching or tearing. The connective tissue in your pelvis can weaken and cause prolapse after your uterus or cervix are removed during a hysterectomy. The risk of prolapse after hysterectomy decreases if your doctor or surgeon attaches the top of your vagina to ligaments in your pelvis during your hysterectomy. This provides your pelvic organs with extra support.
Other conditions and disorders that may lead to pelvic organ prolapse are:
- Chronic Pulmonary Disease
- Collagen Abnormalities
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Genital Atrophy
- Marfan Disease
- Pelvic Tumors
- Sacral Nerve Disorders
You may feel as if something is actually falling out of your vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse sometimes feels like a pulling or stretching in the groin area. It may even be as mild as a backache. Some mild cases of pelvic organ prolapse give off no symptoms and require no therapy. You may notice you are spotting blood or bleeding lightly from your vagina. You may have trouble with incontinence and constipation.
If you are female you will feel an uncomfortable or painful pressure in your pelvis as your uterus, bladder and possible your rectum press on your vaginal wall. Coital difficulty and pain during sex is a common symptom women with pelvic uterine prolapse experience. If you are suffering from chronic urinary tract infections it can sometimes be indicative of pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse treatments can be surgical or non-surgical. Traditional treatments for your pelvic organ prolapse includes surgery. A specialist or surgeon uses your tissues to provide your prolapsed organ or organs with support. In the early 2000s, transvaginal mesh was used by surgeons to support prolapsed organs. However, the FDA has begun investigating the safety of transvaginal mesh, after receiving thousands of complaints about mesh perforating organs and eroding through tissues.
Pelvic organ prolapse is hard to measure. But the research shows that the lifetime risk of requiring at least one operation to correct pelvic prolapse or incontinence is estimated to be around 11%. About 200,000 pelvic prolapse surgeries are performed in the United States every year.
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