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Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common but rarely discussed gynecologic condition in which the organs in the pelvic region shift out of their normal position, or "prolapse".

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs in about 4 out of 10 women. About 1 in 10 women undergo surgery for pelvic organ prolapse by the time they are 80 years old.

Some women are too embarrassed or confused by how you feel to seek medical help. However, it is important that they raise the issue with their doctor to discuss treatment options.

Pelvic organ prolapse can be treated with a variety of methods, including nonsurgical and surgical procedures, depending on the severity of the prolapse and the associated symptoms.

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse can be uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. Women with pelvic organ prolapse tend to limit their daily activities and avoid sex because of pelvic pain and the need to urinate frequently. Other symptoms include the following:

Cause of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The organs in the pelvic area (uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum) are held in place by a web of muscles and connective tissues that act like a hammock. When this web becomes weakened or damaged, one or more pelvic organs shift out of normal position and literally "fall," or prolapse, into the vagina.

As a result, organs may press against the vaginal wall and produce a hernia-like bulge, causing discomfort and limiting physical and sexual activity.

The major risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse is having delivered a baby vaginally. Other risk factors for developing pelvic organ prolapse include:

Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

There are several different types of pelvic organ prolapse, defined by the organs that are involved. It’s also possible to have more than one type of prolapse.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Surgical Treatment Options

For women whose symptoms don't respond to nonsurgical methods, your doctor may recommend pelvic reconstructive surgery. Your doctor may choose to perform one of several types of procedures. It is important for you to be familiar with each type of repair and to understand your choices.

Graft Augmented Repair: During this procedure, the surgeon repositions the prolapsed organs and secures them to surrounding tissues and ligaments using a soft mesh or biologic tissue graft. This surgery may be performed in one of three ways:

Native Tissue Repair: This procedure, also referred to as Posterior and Anterior Colporrhaphy is performed through incisions in the vagina. It involves folding and then suturing, or stitching, the back (posterior) or front (anterior) wall of the vagina to support prolapsed organs.

Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy may be done in combination with other pelvic floor repair procedures, depending on the type of pelvic organ prolapse.

All surgeries present risks. For more information about treatment options, please consult your doctor.