You might have noticed subtle changes or perhaps felt discomfort that made you wonder, “Is this normal?” Well, you’re not alone. If you’re a woman, your body undergoes various transformations throughout life, and sometimes, it sends signals that require a closer look.
While going about your daily routine, you might feel that something seems off. Perhaps you’ve been experiencing discomfort or pressure in your pelvic area, or maybe things just don’t seem as they used to. These signs might be indicative of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a common concern among women that’s essential to address.
A PLOS One study recently highlighted the prevalence of POP in women. The findings indicated that about 50% of all women will encounter POP at some stage in their lives. That’s a significant number, and it’s something worth understanding.
In this blog, we’ll talk about the symptoms, risks, and the myriad of treatment options. The knowledge, in turn, will help you to make informed decisions.
Recognizing the Symptoms
You might be wondering, “How do I know if I have pelvic organ prolapse?” Well, it often starts subtly. You might feel pressure or fullness in your pelvic area like something is bulging. These are early signs, and paying attention to these sensations is crucial.
When you hit the restroom, pay heed. If you’ve noticed changes like difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel, it could be a red flag. Frequent trips to the bathroom, sudden urges, or even leaking urine when you laugh or cough – these are more signs. These subtle indicators can be your body’s way of telling you something’s up with your pelvic floor.
Another thing to watch for is any unexpected changes in your intimate life. Pain during sex or a sense of looseness could be related. If you’ve been nodding along to any of these points, your body might be trying to tell you something about POP.
As per Dr. Gena Dunivan, additional symptoms include urinary issues like leakage or retention, alongside challenges in bowel movements. The extent of the prolapse can lead to the vagina inverting and becoming visibly external to the body.
Mitigating the Associated Risks
Addressing the risks linked to POP starts with understanding your unique situation. Regular pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, can significantly strengthen the muscles supporting your pelvic organs. By maintaining a healthy weight, you reduce excess strain on these crucial structures, minimizing the risk of prolapse.
When POP takes a toll on your life, its impact goes beyond physical discomfort. It can limit your daily activities and even disrupt your sleep. Constantly worrying about leaks or discomfort can lead to stress and anxiety, affecting your overall well-being. By proactively managing the associated risks, you take a step towards preserving your quality of life.
The effects of POP extend beyond the physical realm, often influencing personal relationships. Intimacy may become challenging due to discomfort or embarrassment. In fact, a recent study published in BioMed Central supported this notion. Among women with POP, about 73.6% experienced problems in personal relationships due to the condition.
Open communication with your partner is vital during this time, fostering understanding and support. Taking steps to mitigate these risks not only improves your physical health but also strengthens the fabric of your personal connections.
Exploring Different Treatment Options
When it comes to addressing POP, understanding your treatment options is crucial. Tailoring the approach to your specific condition ensures the most effective outcome. Active management involves pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle adjustments, and maintaining a healthy weight to alleviate symptoms and prevent further progression.
One treatment option that has stirred controversy is the use of vaginal mesh. While it was initially considered a solution for POP, it comes with potential complications like mesh erosion, dyspareunia, hematomas, and among others. Due to these concerns, many healthcare professionals and patients are seeking alternatives. So, what can be used instead of mesh for prolapse?
According to a blog published by TruLaw, there are several alternative methods to treat this condition. However, you should note that these methods work better in combination with lifestyle interventions such as physical activity and stress reduction techniques.
Some of these methods include:
Native Tissue Repair
Native tissue repair is a surgical approach that utilizes a woman’s own tissues to reinforce and support the weakened pelvic structures. This method involves repairing and repositioning the natural tissue, aiming to restore the pelvic organs to their proper position.
Sacrocolpopexy is a surgical procedure that uses mesh attached to the sacrum for supporting prolapsed organs. Unlike traditional mesh techniques, sacrocolpopexy has been associated with lower rates of mesh-related complications, making it a considered option for some patients.
Vaginal pessaries are non-surgical devices placed in the vagina to support the pelvic organs and alleviate symptoms of prolapse. These removable devices come in various shapes and sizes, and they work by providing additional structural support. Pessaries are a non-invasive option and can be an effective solution for some women.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
It involves specialized therapists assisting women in enhancing the strength of their pelvic floor muscles through exercises and various therapeutic interventions. You must consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment option depending upon your circumstances and preferences.
In conclusion, knowledge is important for making the right decisions about your health. Understanding the symptoms, recognizing associated risks, and exploring treatment options empowers you to make informed decisions. Whether it’s adopting healthy lifestyle changes, considering surgical interventions, or exploring alternative methods, your well-being is at the forefront.