Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition in which the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, descend from their normal position and bulge into the vaginal canal. POP can cause discomfort, urinary or bowel problems, and sexual dysfunction. Here are some tips for understanding and managing pelvic organ prolapse in women:
- Know the risk factors: POP is more common in women who have given birth vaginally, are overweight or obese, have a family history of POP, or are postmenopausal. Knowing your risk factors can help you take steps to prevent or manage POP.
- Do pelvic floor exercises: Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, can help strengthen the muscles that support the pelvic organs. Regular pelvic floor exercises can improve symptoms of POP and may prevent the condition from worsening.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and contribute to POP. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can reduce the risk of POP and improve symptoms if it has already developed.
- Use pessaries or support devices: Pessaries are devices that are inserted into the vagina to provide support for the pelvic organs. They can be used to treat or prevent POP and may be recommended by a healthcare provider.
- Consider surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat POP. Surgical options include repairing the pelvic floor muscles, removing the prolapsed organ, or using mesh to support the pelvic floor. Surgery carries risks and should only be considered after discussing the benefits and risks with a healthcare provider.
- Practice good bowel and bladder habits: Straining during bowel movements or lifting heavy objects can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and contribute to POP. Avoiding constipation, practicing good bowel habits, and taking steps to prevent urinary tract infections can help reduce the risk of POP.
Pelvic organ prolapse can be a challenging condition, but there are a variety of options for managing symptoms and reducing the risk of further prolapse. Women who are concerned about POP should talk to their healthcare provider about screening, prevention, and treatment options.