What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that form a hammock or sling around the opening of the pelvis. The pelvic organs, such as the uterus, rectum, and bladder, are held in position by the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding tissues. When the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue that support the pelvic organs are weakened, the pelvic support is lost, resulting in protrusion of the bladder, urethra, cervix, and rectum. This is called pelvic organ prolapse.
Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Women with pelvic organ prolapse will experience excessive pressure on the lower abdomen associated with a bulging or aching sensation, difficulty in urination, and urinary tract infections. You may also experience a feeling of incomplete emptying of your bowel, or painful sex.
Prolapse can occur in any women regardless of whether they have had children or a vaginal birth. It tends to occur more towards menopause years, and can be related to genetics, obesity, lifestyle, heavy manual jobs or activity.
Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Your doctor will diagnose the condition by performing a physical examination, including a Pelvic examination, referring to medical and family history, may perform other tests such as cystoscopy, ultrasound scan or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your GP can prescribe vaginal estrogen or lubricant to use if sex is painful, or may refer you to a specialist gynecologist or urogynecologist for further recommendations.
Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic Health Physiotherapy can help manage and treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Current guidelines recommend conservative management before other treatment is considered. Conservative treatment such as pelvic floor exercises, vaginal pessaries (a device that is inserted in the vagina to support the pelvic floor), and lifestyle changes may be helpful.
Surgery can be considered in patients with severe symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. There are different types of procedures to address a specific prolapse. The aim of pelvic floor reconstruction is to restore the normal anatomy and function of the pelvic organs.
Further information can be found at POGP (Pelvic Obstetric and Gynecological Physiotherapy) website : https://thepogp.co.uk/patient_information/womens_health/vaginal_prolapse.aspx