Medically Reviewed by Joycelyn C. Schindler, MD
The term “prolapse” refers to a body part slipping forward or down. For women, the most likely prolapse is in their pelvic area, resulting in discomfort and other symptoms. Speaking to a group of women, McLeod OB/GYN Joycelyn Schindler described pelvic organ prolapse and it treatments:
Here is a summary of Dr. Schindler’s remarks:
Pelvic organ prolapse is basically any organs that drop through the vagina. It could be the uterus, the bladder, rectum or even small intestines (enterocele) coming down. If it’s only the uterus, it’s called a vaginal prolapse.
Basically, the result is a big bulge. Symptoms associated with pelvic organ prolapse include pelvic fullness or bulging. You may feel like everything is just dropping down. Your back hurts. When you have intercourse, it hurts. You have problems going to the bathroom.
Much of that could be due to way organs are pushing against each other, making it difficult for one or more to work appropriately.
What can you do? One is lifestyle change. If you’re a heavy lifter, always carrying your children, try changing this. Bladder training so you don’t go to the bathroom every 30 minutes. Try to wait about an hour to three hours. However, don’t try hold it for six hours and then go to the bathroom, because that’s only when you have time. Waiting too long will hurt you in the long run because you’re learning to fill up your bladder and that causes pressure on your pelvic organs and structures. Weight loss helps because your body also weighs down on all of those pelvic organs.
A pessary is a device that looks similar to a diaphragm, basically a round structure. It helps to push up the organs. There are many different shapes. I talk about a pessary being like a shoe. Not everyone wears the same shape. Not everyone’s vagina is the same shape. Some people have more droppage of one organ versus another. Your OB/GYN will help you determine which pessary and size fits you best.
Kegel exercises. Imagine yourself urinating and then stopping that stream. And when you stop that stream, you want to squeeze those muscles for a good 10 seconds. Studies recommend doing Kegel exercises 10 times every hour, which is 10 times, 10 hours a day. That’s a lot, but if you can do 50 a day, that would be great. You could be doing it right now. So let’s get together, ready? Deep breath in. Are you Kegeling? Are you holding it for 10 seconds? Then, relax. It’s difficult. Start slowly. Don’t try to do all 50. This won’t work if you already have a significant prolapse because your muscles are already very stretched. The next step would be surgical approaches. These options include insertion of meshes. There are complications, but they are small. The rates of complications are only about 4% for things like meshing erosions and chronic pelvic pain. Again, your OB/GYN will explain in details your options and the potential complications.