Pelvic organ prolapse. Pessary. Urogynecology. Terms that all women should be familiar with, terms that few women are. Pelvic organ prolapse is an extremely common female health issue that has probably been around since women started having babies yet sadly remains in the closet. Frankly, women are just too embarrassed to talk about it. We need to change this dynamic. We need to change it now.
Every year millions of women are diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse and countless more suffer silently with symptoms that they can’t make any sense out of; is it a digestive thing, is it a colon cancer thing, is it a female hormone fluctuation thing? When we don’t know what to tie symptoms to, our minds can be our worst enemies, imagining the most negative scenario.
Half of all women over the age of 50 suffer from at least one type of pelvic organ prolapse (there are 5 types), many women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have POP as well. The 5 types of pelvic organ prolapse are cystyocele (bladder), rectocele (large bowel), enterocele (intestines), vaginal vault (vagina caves in on itself after uterus is removed-hysterectomy), and uterine (uterus). When the PC or pelvic floor muscles weaken, one or more of these organ/tissue areas shift out of their normal positions into the vaginal canal, often bulging out of the vagina.
Each of these 5 types of POP has its own symptoms, but in general symptoms can include:
Pressure, pain, or “fullness” in vagina or rectum or both.
Sensation of “your insides falling out”.
Urine retention (you have to pee, you just can’t get it to come out).
Can’t keep a tampon in.
Lack of sexual sensation.
There are multiple causes of POP; it is likely that most women have more than one cause that fits their health pocket and lifestyle. The most common causes of POP are
Vaginal childbirth-complications from large birth weight babies, long 2nd stage labor, damage to nerves, forceps deliveries, multiple childbirths, improperly repaired episiotomies. (It is also possible for women who have never given birth to have POP; there are many non-childbirth related causes.)
Menopause-age related muscle impact due to drop in estrogen level; this impacts strength, elasticity, and density of muscle tissue.
Chronic constipation-IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), poor diet, lack of exercise can all cause constipation.
Chronic coughing-smoking, allergies, bronchitis, and emphysema can create chronic coughing.
Heavy lifting-lifting children, repetitive heavy lifting at work, weight trainers.
Joggers, marathon runners, aggresive aerobics-constant downward pounding of internal structures.
Genetics-having a family member with POP means you are more likely to have POP issue.
Neuromuscular diseases such as MS, diabetic neuropathy, or a condition like Marfans (collegan deficiency).
There is hope for women with POP; there are both non-surgical and surgical treatments that can be utilized to control, improve, or repair this health issue. The most positive direction we can take is to increase awareness so women start recognizing POP symptoms when they occur. Women who have been diagnosed with POP need to come out of the closet with their diagnosis and treatment paths and share that information with other women, their mothers, their daughters, their sisters, their friends. The sooner we take POP out of the closet, the sooner women will be able to start identifying it and seek professional diagnosis and treatment.
NO ONE CAN HELP US AS MUCH AS WE CAN HELP OURSELVES
The POP Diva.That is going to me my nickname for you. THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOO MUCH FOR COMING INTO MY LIFE AND FOR ALL YOU DO FOR US LADIES. Bringing POP out of the closet and dispelling the "embarrassment" related issues is a wonderful undertaken on your part and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. I'm 5 months out from my stage III POP surgery and coming along just fine. I've been golfing a few times in the past month and that felt good! Still following the guidelines in your book "Pelvic Organ Prolapse The Silent Epidemic" (my POP Bible). Keep up the good work!
So glad to hear you were out on the range!! (If you saw me golf you would be rolling on the ground laughing!) It makes me so happy when I hear my ladies are doing maintenance, we're all in this together!
Thank You Thank You Thank You! For so much info and detailed information on this subject! I was one of many young (32 years old now) who suffers from this and did not wanted to tell a soul--not even doctors. The reason why I told my doctor now? I'm TRIED of the issue of course! 10 years is too long!
I'm especially happy when young women like yourself recognize that something needs to be done to address POP, it will only get worse as time progresses if it is not addressed. Share information when you are ready with other women, part of the problem with this health concern is everyone is embarrassed to talk about it (even with physicians and husbands). I work daily at putting POP info on the table so it becomes common knowledge for women and truly feel it should be part of the screening process of a pelvic exam. It's time for change!
I so agree with you! Guess what? I FINALLY told my husband three nights ago. I told him why I still wear thick pads and/or pantyliner? He was very understanding about the issue and now I feel so much better that I've gotten it off my chest! Whew! Lol!
Congratulations! The word is getting out there and we women are finally able to breath a sigh of relief. Hiding such an intimate issue only makes your stress level twice what it should be. I've lived the life and Sherrie Palm has made my life sooooooooo much better for putting POP in the spotlight. I'm happy for you and your husband.
I'm also glad you told your husband; we women assume our men will be freaked out but the reality is they typically wonder why we are acting differently during intimacy. Fear of leakage during intimate acts is an area that I get a strong reaction to when I speak. Once we have all the info on the table and it is common knowledge, it will be so much easier for everyone to talk about it.
Again, happy for you and your husband. I had a Stage III POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse) which affected my bladder, vagina, rectum. I was in shock when my OBGYN told me I had a stage III POP. I'm a breast cancer survior and naturally assumed the worse. I knew about bladders "dropping" so to speak. But I never heard of Pelvic Organ Proplalpse and certainly did not know it involved all the pelvic organs including the small bowel and that one or all could be affected. According to my OBGYN it was "common" among wormen. Well it was such a well kept secret amongst "us women" that I knew little to nothing about it, until I found out I had Stage III POP!. My OBGYN referred me to a Urologist at the Washington Hospital Center (WHC) in District of Columbia. One of a few top notch Pelvic Organ Prolapse Centers for Women. She was wonderful, very up front with all my options (surgical and non-surgical). My husband and I reviewed all the options and had a one-on-one conference with her and we (yes we) decided on the surgical procedure. I had a laparoscopic sacral colpopexy (vaginal prolapse), rectocele (rectum prolalpse) repair, and mid-urethral sling (bladder prolapse) procedure. It was a 5 hour procedure and I was in the hospital overnight and released late the following day. I had to go home with a catherer because I was not urinating like I should and it came out 2 days later. The recovery was painful the first two days but I was up and about without any difficulty and by the 5th day I was moving about just fine. The laparoscopic procedure was less invasive and had a quicker healing time. I give thanks to Sherrie Palm and her book "Pelvic Organ Proplapse "The Silent Epidemic" for my smooth "at home after care." My urologist prepared me for "after surgical care", but Sherrie prepared me for "at home after surgical care." There is a big difference. I'm still having off/on bouts with UTIs as it relates to "itching" but no pain/discharge like regular UTIs. My urologist and I are still trying to track down the culprit for this occassional recurrence of what I call "crotch itch." She has prescribed excellent meds to control it when the UTIs occur and it disappears within 3-5 days. But it is still a frustrating nuiance for me because I have an active sex life and it tends to show up at inconvenient times. But overall I'm satisfied with the outcome. No more pads 24/7. No checking to see where the nearest bathroom is if I'm traveling. No more concerns about sexual relations. Overall, I'm 95% happy with the procedure. Good luck with whatever procedure you decide on and, of course, you can do nothing and live with things as they are.
Thanks for the info and yes, I was thinking the same thing. I don't wanna smell like urine when we have sex and does he smell it too? (which I'm very clean and take baths before sex & after). I use to get really conscious. Not any more and thanks for educating and/or enlightening women on this very important issue. Which they will no longer have to be in ignorance about. Cause I was one of the many!
Men seldom notice the changes in women's bodies that we notice; doubtful he smelled urine-when we keep ourselves clean we notice a smell way b/4 a man would. (When they are "in the zone" they are a bit distracted!) They also seldom notice tissue bulge when women have that either unless engaging in oral sex in a well lit room-it actually enhances sensation for men. When I speak with men about POP they are amazed (I generally make it a point to let them know that women that were always intimate that start shying away from sex may have POP concerns going on), never occurs to them it might be a health issue-they assume women just aren't into intimacy anymore.
Thank God you have beaten Breast Cancer! ~hugs~ That's a job all by itself! I'm very happy for you! thanks for the very detailed info you shared with me about your POP stage (which I never knew there were different stages until I researched it for myself on line recently). Something else I had learned new! And including the surgical procedure you had as well. I'm glad its working for You MCFOR! I want something that works for me also. I just hope mind isn't that bad to need surgery. Then again? You'll never know? Cause I have been having these issues for 10 years. So it could be bad? The reason why I'm dreading surgery. Cause I just had an Hysterectomy (Subtotal & kept both ovaries) two months go (Nov, 16, 2011) and not in a hurry to get cut on again! Lol! I finally getting back into my sex life also....so yeah. But, if it has to be done? I WILL do it!
I had a hysterectomy over 20 years ago and never thought it would impact me later in life as it would relate to POP. I never thought having children, moving furniture around the house and lifting heavy objects would either. I highly recommend you read Sherrie Palms book "Pelvic Organ Proplapse The Silent Epidemic. I got mines on Amazon.com. It was like walking in her footsteps because her POP was very simliar to mine and she was tryiing to find answers just like me. She had compiled info, like I was doing, but she published her finding with assist from her medical friends. I had one of Oprah's AHA MOMENTS after reading it. She took the fear and mystery out of POP and made it so much easier for me to make a decision as to how I wanted to handle my situation. She prepared me for my doctors visits with questions I wanted answers to, but was not sure how to word them. She prepared me for the AT HOME AFTER SURGERY CARE that went beyond what my urogynecologist prepared me for and I was very grateful. Good luck with your recovery.
A good urogyn will adise you on both surgical and non-surgical treatment options; step one is finding out exactly what kind(s) of POP you have and what degree it is. FYI, any urogyn who pushes surgery is a red flag-it should always be your choice.
I agree! I am 31 now and have been experiencing gastro/stomach/pain issues for the last 6 years.. so I have been dealing with this since I was about 25 years old. Just now did they finally find that I have this (6 years/5 drs/10+ procedures later) after a barium defecography. I was so embarrassed and scared when I first heard about what was wrong but happy at the same time to get an answer that I am not crazy and that something really is wrong with me. And to find all of you ladies on here and having Sherri with all her knowledge has been a god sent.. I felt so lost until I found this community forum!
i have been suffering with pop for 3 1/2 years now i've already had my uterus removed and i enterocele which i had surgery for was suppose to have mesh put but told my skin was to thin and now i feel something not right again waiting for referal for urologist again tired of going through this im 40 have 3 kids i had blood pressure problems with my last child and it seems like every time i have a surgery it acts up but i know the longer i wait the worse the pop will get i just hope that they can find something to finally cure me once and for all
Is the urologist you've seen a pelvic floor specialist? If not, it would be a good idea to see a urogynecologist-these are pelvic floor specialists.
Do you lift heavy weight with your job or pick up your kids? If so, every time you pick up something heavy, you are making the POP worse. A urogyn should be able to address any and all POP issues you have. You may have to get b/p under control b/4 they can do surgery; if that is the case they can advise you what non-surgical treatments to use while you are waiting for surgery. It is also important to get the right dr if mesh will be used for repair-it is very effective in the right hands but technique makes a big difference in surgical outcome.
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