I don’t know what’s happening to me and I don’t want to talk about it!
By Annette Pinder
Pelvic organ prolapse or POP, is something most women don’t want to talk or think about, but it is relatively common. Quite simply, it is the dropping of the pelvic organs caused by loss of normal support of the vagina. It occurs due to weakness or damage to the pelvic floor that holds up the pelvic organs. If muscles of the pelvic floor and layers of connective tissue, called fascia, become weakened, stretched or torn, pelvic organs may fall downward.
About 2-15 percent of women over age 35 have some degree of POP, and the condition reaches its peak in women ages 55 to 70. It can be uncomfortable and painful, and felt as pressure or a bulging sensation. Fortunately, it isn’t usually a significant health problem, and doesn’t always get worse. Sometimes it even gets better over time.
Armen Kirakosyan, M.D. says, “Risk factors for POP include genetics, being Caucasian, smoking, pelvic floor injury due to vaginal delivery, surgery, pelvic radiation, and fractures to the back and pelvis. Hysterectomy and certain health conditions can lead to POP, including chronic constipation, chronic coughing, obesity, menopause, nerve and muscle diseases, heavy lifting, and intense repetitive activity.”
Common symptoms of POP include pressure from pelvic organs pressing against the vaginal wall, fullness in the lower abdomen, a sensation of something falling out of your vagina, pulling or stretching in the groin area or lower back, releasing urine without meaning to (incontinence) or excessive urination, constipation, and painful intercourse.
Dr. Kirakosyan wants women to know that seeking medical help does not necessarily mean you will require surgery. Often, physical therapy is an option. When considering treatment, work with your urogynecologist to develop a plan that is best for you. Much depends on your individual problems and preferences. Doctors often recommend a variety of therapies to relieve symptoms of POP, urinary or fecal incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders.
Conservative treatment options include watching and waiting, modifying lifestyle and behavior, physical therapy, or a vaginal device called a pessary. If surgery is recommended, there are many different types that your urogyecologist can review with you.
The good news is that there are many options available for you and your physician to consider to determine the best course of action based on your overall health, lifestyle and personal goals. Learn more at www.voicesforpfd.org.
Armen Kirakosyan, M.D., FACOG, FPMRS, FRCSC, FACS is a board certified urogynecologist, Medical Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Buffalo General Medical Center, an OB/GYN at General Physican, PC, and a clinical assistant professor at State University of New York at Buffalo’s OB/GYN Department. To make an appointment with Dr. Kirakosyan call 716-656-4077.