(Below is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Carrollton)
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that will affect a great number of women during their lifetimes, most commonly as menopause approaches. If you have had children, POP is something you should educate yourself about, since nearly half of women who have given birth will be affected to some degree.
Symptoms to watch out for include feelings of pressure or fullness or a noticeable bulge in the vagina. Urine leakage when you cough or laugh can be a sign of POP, as can pain during sex, frequent constipation, irregular vaginal spotting or bleeding and frequent urinary tract infections. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor, but if you do have POP, don't rush into surgical solution. Many women can be helped with natural remedies, so make sure to discuss less invasive options with your doctor before resorting to surgery.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse results from a weakened pelvic floor, which is the support structure made up of muscles and connective tissues that keep pelvic organs in place. When the pelvic floor is stretched or weakened, it can allow pelvic organs like the bladder, uterus and rectum to drop lower than they should be in the pelvis, placing pressure on the vagina. Weakness in the pelvic floor is most often linked to childbirth, but anything that places pressure on the pelvic floor can contribute, such as heavy lifting, high-impact sports, a chronic cough, obesity or the straining that comes from chronic constipation.
Most doctors will recommend that women try non-invasive natural remedies to alleviate the discomfort of prolapse before considering surgery. A daily routine of gentle exercise is a measure that eases the symptoms of many women. Speak to your doctor for instructions on Kegel exercises, which have proven very helpful in building strength and tone in the pelvic floor. Walking, Pilates and yoga can also help.
Addressing constipation is an important step in relieving POP symptoms. Add fiber to your diet by eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If constipation is still a problem, fiber supplements and stool softeners can help. Weight management is important as well, since excess weight stresses the pelvic floor. Also, avoid heavy lifting and high-impact activities, like running and jumping. If you have done all of these things and still have discomfort, your doctor may suggest a pessary, which is a medical device placed in the vagina to support prolapsed organs.
If natural remedies fail, your doctor may recommend surgery if your POP is severe enough to significantly affect your quality of life. It is important that you discuss all surgical options, since some POP repair procedures involve more risk than others.
Over the past decade, many procedures have involved the use of transvaginal mesh implants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued alerts on these devices, since reports of serious complications with their use have been growing at disturbing rates. The most common problems reported are mesh erosion, mesh shrinkage, organ perforation and infection. Further surgeries are often required to correct these complications, and they are not always successful. For many women the complications will affect them for the rest of theirs live, many have therefore sought compensation through the filing of a transvaginal mesh lawsuit against manufacturers of the mesh products. So, be sure to ask your doctor about surgeries that do not use mesh.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.