Are you at risk for pelvic organ prolapse? If you are someone who has had a vaginal birth (especially if it was assisted with forceps or was long and difficult), is overweight, or deals with chronic coughing, you may fall into the category of those at risk of developing the condition.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can be a complicated condition to deal with and recover from, but there are treatment options available for those dealing with it. Different pelvic floor treatments, both surgical and nonsurgical, can do wonders to reduce symptoms and get patients back to living their normal life.
What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Before we explore the different pelvic organ prolapse treatment options out there, it’s important to understand what exactly pelvic organ prolapse is, why it happens, and how it affects the body.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where the organs held in a patient’s pelvic region (eg: the bladder, uterus, rectum) shift in place, moving downward in the body. This is usually the result of damage to the pelvic muscle/ligaments/connective tissue in the pelvic floor. The degree of downward movement of organs will determine how severe the prolapse is in terms of its symptoms.
In women, there are three main kinds of pelvic organ prolapse. These are:
Anterior wall: The bladder bulges through the vagina’s front wall.
Posterior wall: Rectum bulges through the vagina’s back wall.
Uterine Prolapse: The uterus drops down inside the vagina.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Symptoms
Those who are experiencing pelvic organ prolapse will have the following symptoms:
- Bulging sensation in the vagina (sensation of something moving down/a lump)
- Pressure in the pelvic region
- Heaviness in the abdomen
- Lower back aching
- Issues with emptying the bowels and/or bladder
- Issues with leakage from the bowels/bladder
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Causes
A patient can develop pelvic organ prolapse issues for a number of reasons, but they are generally tied to increased strain and pressure on the abdomen and pelvic region. Some causes of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Old age
- Vaginal birth
- Trauma during vaginal birth
- Nerve damage in the pelvic region
- Hysterectomy complications
- Damage to the levator ani muscle
- Genetic tissue disorders
- Collagen disorders
- Reconstructive surgery complications (pelvic/abdominal region)
- Pelvic floor disorder
Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse
To prevent pelvic organ prolapse, The Continence Foundation of Australia recommends focusing on keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong. A focus on pelvic floor health via exercises can do wonders to prevent many different kinds of pelvic floor issues, such as stress urinary incontinence, pelvic floor disorder, and other issues.
Like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor can be strengthened with exercises. Here at Sydney Pelvic Clinic, we have a Pelvic Floor Muscle Class for those looking for pelvic floor therapy, empowering our patients to treat pelvic floor dysfunction and prevent pelvic floor issues through exercise.
Can You Treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse Without Surgery?
While pelvic floor physical therapy exercises can do wonders to both prevent prolapse and work as a pelvic prolapse treatment, in some cases surgical intervention may be needed. However, we understand those who have a prolapsed organ in the pelvic area may want to avoid that, sticking to nonsurgical options.
Depending on the severity of your pelvic organ prolapse, it is possible to treat it without surgery. If the condition is in its earlier, milder stages, pelvic floor muscle training and other nonsurgical therapies can reduce, and in some cases, eliminate symptoms. However, in more severe cases where women are having difficulty emptying their bladder or bowel, pelvic organ prolapse surgery can be the best option. To learn more about nonsurgical treatment options, watch this video from our founder and Principal Physiotherapist, Dr. Angela James FACP. https://youtu.be/2i9j5gsxoe0
The Best Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
As with most medical concerns in the pelvic region, you should contact your GP or OBGYN if you believe you may be experiencing pelvic organ prolapse. They should be able to fully assess your symptoms for a proper diagnosis, and determine the best course of surgical or non-surgical treatment.
Sydney Pelvic Clinic currently offers a few different therapies that can help patients who are experiencing pelvic organ prolapse. These include:
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
As we touched on above, using pelvic floor exercises is a great way to prevent and manage symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.
We offer this to patients both in the form of physical therapy from one of our qualified pelvic floor physiotherapists and in the form of pelvic floor muscle classes. These group exercise sessions are perfect for patients looking to treat any kind of pelvic floor dysfunction.
A vaginal pessary is a treatment option prescribed by physiotherapists and doctors for patients looking for self-managed treatment options. Pessaries are small medical-grade silicone devices that are inserted into the vagina, designed to support the prolapse
You should note that this is a treatment option only suited to vaginal prolapse. With regular use, they can do a lot to support good strength in the pelvic floor, providing symptom relief.
If non-surgical treatment options can’t address the issues, pelvic organ prolapse surgery may be the best source of treatment. This is often the case in patients experiencing severe prolapse, accompanied by more severe symptoms such as difficulty emptying the bowel or bladder.
The exact nature of your surgery will depend on your kind of prolapse and your gynecologist will discuss the most appropriate options for you.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a difficult condition to manage, but the right treatment options can do wonders to get you back to living life symptom-free!
If you believe you may be experiencing pelvic organ prolapse, the team at Sydney Pelvic Clinic is ready to help. Click here to reach out to our team for a consultation today, so we can explore treatment options together.