What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder that affects 1 in every 5 women. The word ‘Prolapse’ means a slipping of an organ in the body, in a forward or downward direction. When the pelvic muscles and tissues are not able to support the pelvic organs because they become weakened, damaged, or both, these organs will drop and/or bulge out into the vagina. This is known as Pelvic Organ Prolapse. When a patient develops this disorder, it is important to seek treatment as these organs may cause discomfort and begin to work irregularly escalading into other health issues.
There are different types of Pelvic Organ Prolapses, these include:
- Cystocele: Prolapse of the bladder
- Rectocele: Prolapse of the rectum
- Urethrocele: Prolapse of the urethra
- Uterine prolapse: Prolapse of the uterus
- Vaginal Vault prolapse: Prolapse of the top of the vagina after a hysterectomy
- Enterocele: Prolapse of the intestines
Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of Pelvic Organ Prolapse is due to the intensity experienced during childbirth. Giving birth causes the muscles in the lower belly to become stretched and weakened, and therefore will no longer support your pelvic organs. Other factors that put pressure on your abdomen such as obesity, pelvic organ cancers, constipation, chronic long-term coughs, and/or a hysterectomy can also lead to pelvic organ prolapse. Women with genetic factors that lead to weaker connective tissue can be at a greater risk in developing this disorder. Even women who are simply aging, or who have experienced a hormonal change during menopause can also be at greater risk.
The pressure from the prolapse can cause an uncomfortable feeling during sexual activities and normal day to day activities. Some patients may describe the feeling of a ‘ball’ of tissue within the vagina. Other symptoms may include;
- Feeling ‘full’ in the lower belly
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Difficulty emptying the bowels or bladder
- Bowel complications such as constipation
- Urinary stress incontinence
- A stretching/pulling feeling in the groin area
- Lower back pain
- Pain that increases over long periods of standing
- Pressure of pelvic organs against vaginal wall
- Difficulty inserting tampons
- Bleeding or spotting
Diagnosis and Treatments
In order to diagnose a Pelvic Organ Prolapse, you need to be evaluated by your family doctor, gynecologist or see a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic floor physiotherapy. The health care professional will perform a pelvic exam and ask a series of questions related to your symptoms. Treatment options may vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of symptoms, and which pelvic organs have actually prolapsed.
Treatment options can range from changing your diet, to assistive devices, surgery, and/or physical therapy. A ‘Pessary’ is a physical device that can be inserted into the vagina to hold the bladder in place, and is a common treatment option. They vary in shape and size, and can be removed. Different surgeries can be performed depending on whether the patient is sexually active or not. One of the most common treatments is pelvic floor therapy, which is offered here at Ultimate Health Clinic. This treatment targets the muscles of the pelvic floor to provide strength, looseness, as well as to release tension. Several techniques can be used such as exercises, manual therapy, biofeedback, or electrical stimulation.
In order to reduce your risk of Pelvic Organ Prolapse, you can adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as avoiding smoking, choosing foods that are high in fiber, and maintaining a healthy body weight. If you have concerns that you may have the symptoms associated with Pelvic Organ Prolapse and are interested in correcting them with physiotherapy in East Gwillimbury, come talk to one of our health care professionals. Together, we will work to create the appropriate treatment plan for your symptoms. To learn more about our services, call us at (905) 251 – 0162.