Pelvic organ prolapse can occur when the pelvic floor muscles weaken, allowing organs to shift from their normal positions. Pelvic organs that can drop include the bladder, uterus, rectum, vagina and the small intestine (bowel).31
Pelvic organ prolapse can develop when events or activities happen that lead to increased pressure on the pelvic floor. Pregnancy and childbirth are often the most common cause of pelvic organ prolapse due to the increased stress placed on the pelvic floor muscles, but these are by no means the only causes.49 Genetics, lifestyle (smoking), chronic constipation, obesity and many factors are connected to pelvic organ prolapse.37
While some women do experience symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse, many others may not notice any symptoms at all. It may also be difficult to identify prolapse symptoms as they often progress very slowly and you may not notice changes until they become extreme.33
Symptoms will often depend on which type of prolapse you are experience and the specific organ that is dropping. Some common prolapse symptoms include pressure or fullness in the pelvic area, backaches, painful intercourse, urinary problems and constipation.3
Yes, pelvic organ prolapse can be treated.35 There are many different treatment options available for pelvic organ prolapse. It is important to discuss your individual situation with a pelvic floor specialist who will discuss what options may be appropriate for your specific situation.
There are many different treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse that include both non-surgical and surgical treatments. Non-surgical treatment options include lifestyle and behavior changes, physical therapy or the use of a vaginal device (pessary). Depending on the severity of your pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and general health, it may be recommended to consider surgery. There are different types of pelvic organ prolapse surgeries, so it is important to discuss your options with your physician in detail to ensure that you find a treatment option that is right for you.50
Pelvic repair surgeries aim to correct a prolapse by returning the “dropped” organ to its normal position and restoring your pelvic floor support.30 The procedure can either be performed through small incisions in the vagina or abdomen. While the thought of any surgery is scary, you are not alone. There are an estimated 300,000 pelvic organ prolapse surgeries performed in the United States each year.35
Every patient’s recovery time is different. It is generally recommended that physical strain, sexual intercourse and heavy lifting should be avoided for six weeks after surgery, but the patient may resume other normal activities after two weeks or at the surgeon’s discretion. Your doctor will provide specific details about your individual recovery process.18
Every surgery carries some level of risk. Mesh reinforced prolapse repair may not be suitable for every patient, and a thorough discussion between you and your doctor will enable both of you to determine if this treatment is right for you. Ask your doctor for more information about potential risks and complications, as well as your specific surgery and situation.
Finding the right physician to treat your prolapse is a very important step in seeking treatment. Several types of specialists may treat prolapse; however, there are physicians within each specialty who specialize in certain conditions and treatment options. Taking time to do your research can make all the difference in the care you receive.
Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover these procedures. Consult your insurance carrier to find out the specific criteria for coverage. The reimbursement specialist at your physician’s office may also be able to help you get answers.