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.
Pelvic organ prolapse and the consequences associated with it have been reported since 2000 B.C.E. Hippocrates, a famous Greek mind, has described various nonsurgical treatments for pelvic organ prolapse. In 98 C.E, Soranus of Rome described the first prolapsed uterus removal due to pelvic organ prolapse. The ancient Roman woman in question had suffered a prolapsed uterus that was protruding through her vagina and had turned black. The first vaginal hysterectomy to cure a prolapsed uterus was self-performed in 1670 by a peasant woman named Faith Raworth. She was suffering so much from her uterus prolapsing that she pulled down on her protruding cervix and used a sharp knife to remove the prolapse. She survived the hemorrhage that occurred afterward and lived the rest of her life with total urinary incontinence.
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.
You will feel pressure, pain, and the sensation of something falling out of your vagina or rectum. In extreme cases of pelvic organ prolapse, you may see or feel your pelvic organs bulging out of your body. See a doctor right away if you are experiencing pain. 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. 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.
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
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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