1 in 3 women with children will have POP as they age. POP is a condition where the uterus, bladder or rectum droops into and beyond the vagina. 1 in 10 women will need surgery in their lifetime for this as it can impact your quality of life significantly.
Why does pelvic organ prolapse happen?
Damage during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as ageing and menopause, result in weakened pelvic floor muscles, which in turn leads to sagging. Women who have a high body mass index, chronic cough, constipation, jobs that involve heavy lifting/straining are also at increased risk of having pelvic organ prolapse.
I suspect I may have pelvic organ prolapse?
Some women have no symptoms and are diagnosed during their gynaecology check-up. Some may feel a lump in their vagina, or a heavy dragging sensation. Others may experience bleeding after menopause, urinary issues such as frequency, urgency, difficulty passing or controlling their urine (urinary incontinence).
You should consult a urogynaecologist to determine what type of pelvic organ prolapse you have, its severity and your treatment options. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform a pelvic examination to check for the stage of your pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor muscle tone. You may also require a pelvic and bladder ultrasound scan, and urine tests.
Can pelvic organ prolapse be treated?
Treatment options include non-surgical and surgical.
Kegel exercises strengthen the weak pelvic floor muscle tone and are useful for mild POP, but require daily exercises for 3-6 months before improvement can be seen. Maintain a healthy body weight and treat conditions that increase stress on pelvic floor muscles e.g. chronic cough, constipation, avoiding carrying heavy things.
These are soft devices placed in your vagina to support your prolapsed pelvic organs – discuss with your urogynaecologist if you are suitable for them.
The type of surgery will depend on your type and severity of pelvic organ prolapse, age, medical conditions and previous surgery – your surgery will need to be individualised and discussed with your urogynaecologist.