May 26, 2021
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Nina Bhatia, M.D. contributes to topics such as Urogynecology.
Although not a popular topic of conversation, pelvic organ prolapse—a condition where the muscles in the pelvis can no longer support the pelvic organs—affects almost half of women at some point in their lives.
“It’s a condition that women don’t often talk about. They may not bring it up with their doctor or talk about it with their friends,” says Nina Bhatia, M.D., a urogynecologist at Hackensack Meridian Health.
But there’s no need to suffer in silence. This uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing condition is also very treatable. Here’s what you need to know about pelvic organ prolapse.
While you may not experience symptoms, you might notice:
- A feeling of pressure or a bulge in your vaginal or pelvic area, which can make it uncomfortable to sit or walk
- Vaginal dryness
- Problems with your bowels
- Urinary incontinence
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
“There are a lot of reasons why a woman might develop pelvic organ prolapse, which is why it’s so common,” says Dr. Bhatia. Those reasons include:
- Chronic constipation
Treatment options will depend on the stage of your prolapse and symptoms, as well as your goals and other medical conditions. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of situation when it comes to prolapse,” says Dr. Bhatia.
While surgery is considered the most definitive treatment option, it’s not the only one. Other options include pelvic floor physical therapy, pessaries (prosthetic devices that are inserted into the vagina to support its structure), or even a watch-and-see approach. If you opt for surgery, it’s often a minimally invasive procedure done on an outpatient basis.
Pelvic Floor Therapy
There’s more to pelvic floor therapy than Kegel exercises. A pelvic floor therapist can help you identify the relevant muscles and show you different techniques to help strengthen them.
“Most of my patients do physical therapy at some point, either instead of surgery or after surgery to maintain their pelvic floor strength,” says Dr. Bhatia. Even if you don’t have a prolapse, it’s a great option to help you strengthen your pelvic floor before you start noticing problems.
Most of all, remember that pelvic organ prolapse can be fixed. “I think it’s important for women to know that while it is a common condition, it’s not something they have to live with. We can treat it, and we have so many different options for doing so,” says Dr. Bhatia.
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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.