Pelvic Organ Prolapse – What is it and what are the symptoms?
There are several soft organs inside the pelvis region which are held in their place by the muscles and tissues in the area. As the muscles lose strength, the organs start to fall down causing pelvic organ prolapse.
Almost every woman (and some men), suffer from pelvic organ prolapse. Women get it mainly due to the pressure laid by growing baby on the pelvic region during pregnancy and vaginal delivery that tears a lot of muscles and tissues. Multiple vaginal deliveries are going to make things worse unless the pelvic floor muscles are worked out and strengthened.
A sedentary lifestyle and being obese also cause the pelvic organs to prolapse.
Pelvis is the lower part of your belly (the abdomen area) that is between the hip bones. There are several soft body parts inside the pelvis region including:
The muscles and tissues inside the pelvis region hold all these soft organs in their place. As a woman ages or when the muscles and tissues are torn or become weak due to other conditions, the organs start falling off their place and move down due to gravity. This condition is called Prolapse.
What causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Delivering a baby through the vagina (instead of C-section) is the major region for prolapse in women. The odds of Pelvic Organ Prolapse go up with the number of children given birth vaginally. That doesn’t mean, women who gave delivered a baby through the vagina will have prolapse; that depends on the strength of the pelvic muscles after the delivery.
Incorrect way of lifting weights (constantly), constipation where pressure is laid on the pelvic region to pass stools can also result in prolapse. Following are some of the risk factors for prolapse:
- Surgery or radiation therapy to organs in the pelvic area
- Breaking of back bones or injury to the lower back.
- Long term constipation
- Long term cough (pressure is exerted in the pelvic region when a person coughs)
- Incorrect lifting of heavy weights (at work or at the gym)
- Prolapse is hereditary and also more seen in white race
- Giving birth through vagina at a younger age
Complications that occur due to pelvic organ prolapse
- Urinary Incontinence – involuntary leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or lifting weights.
- Faecal Incontinence – Involuntary leakage of liquid or stool
- A bend/kink in the urethra that makes it difficult to pass urine
- Dyspareunia – Pain during sex
- Recurring Urinary Tract Infections
- Kidney damage, if you are unable to pee
Wondering if you can get Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
As said, not every woman who gives vaginal birth will have a prolapse. As long as the muscles in the pelvis region are strong, one may not have prolapse at all. If you started to see any symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse such as incontinence (which is a very common symptom), start working on your pelvic muscles immediately and make it a routine. You will gradually see the symptoms fading away.
Obesity or being overweight can also result in pelvic organ prolapse. Excess body weight takes a toll on the lower part of the body causing the organs move down. Regular workout, consuming healthy food is mandatory to manage optimal body weight.
If you are smoker, quit smoking.
What are the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?
Symptoms vary from person to person depending on which organ has prolapsed. Usually the symptoms seem to be lighter in the morning and they become worse as the day progresses. (as the pelvic muscles lose their stiffness).
- Feeling of fullness in the pelvic region even after you empty your bladder.
- Feeling like you are sitting on a ball
- You feel like something is coming out of the vagina
- Leakage of urine
- Difficulty in peeing
- Slow stream of urine when passing
- Urge to go to toilet even after you emptied your bladder
- Recurring urinary tract infections.
- Feeling like something is protruding out of your anus, you may need to use your fingers to push it inside.
- Pain during bowel movements
- Difficulty in passing stools, you may have to apply pressure.
- Passing of Gas
- Pain and difficulty having sex
- A feeling of loosening vagina
- Dryness in vagina
- Loss of confidence in bed which can lead to refraining from sex.
- Vaginal bleeding may also be seen in some women.
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, please see your gynecologist immediately. If you don’t have one family doctor, please look for a good gynecologist near you. You will surely be advised to drop weight if you are obese and also to do regular workouts to strengthen pelvic floor muscles along with some medication. Follow your doctor’s advice for better health.