Pelvic organ prolapse, while a common concern among many women, remains a mostly untalked about issue. Often, the nature of the condition can make it challenging to discuss, even with medical professionals.
However, being informed about pelvic prolapse and understanding the risks associated with it is crucial when it comes to managing your health. At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG, in Las Vegas, Nevada, our board-certified OB/GYN providers understand the complications of untreated pelvic prolapse.
Understanding pelvic prolapse and its causes
Pelvic prolapse occurs when organs within the pelvic region, like the small intestine, rectum, uterus, or bladder, shift from their regular position, pressing onto the walls of the vagina. About 40% of women experience this condition at some point.
The primary cause is damage to the pelvic floor. This delicate mesh of muscles can be compromised by pressures in the abdomen, especially after events like pregnancy and childbirth. But prolapse isn’t just about childbirth. Other factors can also contribute:
- Frequent constipation or straining during bowel movements
- Having a chronic cough
- Certain treatments related to pelvic-area cancers
- Genetics / weak connective tissue conditions
In addition, if you have a history of pelvic-area surgeries, like hysterectomy, you might want to keep an eye out as these procedures can sometimes heighten the risk of pelvic prolapse.
Signs you might have pelvic prolapse
Recognizing the signs of pelvic prolapse early can be a game-changer when it comes to treatment. Symptoms can range from subtle and easy to dismiss to severe and include:
- Constant feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic region
- Observing a protrusion or bulge within or extending from the vagina
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Pain during sexual activities
- Constipation, more often than usual
- Spotting or unusual vaginal bleeding
- An unexplained lower back pain
If these signs feel all too familiar, it's essential not to brush them off! Be sure to schedule a time to talk with your specialist at Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG if you recognize these signs.
The risks of letting pelvic prolapse go unchecked
You might wonder if pelvic organ prolapse requires treatment. We understand—it’s difficult to discuss issues like the symptoms described above with a provider.
For some women with mild cases, your provider might recommend a “watch and see” approach. But by ignoring the symptoms of pelvic prolapse, you risk worsening discomfort and the potential for health complications, such as:
Significant health complications
As the bladder is often affected, you might experience urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine), frequent bladder infections, and a constant urge to urinate. Prolapse can also lead to constipation, straining during bowel movements, and sometimes fecal incontinence.
The discomfort caused by pelvic organ prolapse can make sexual intercourse painful, and the protrusion of the vaginal walls can lead to increased exposure and susceptibility to infections.
Activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure, like lifting, might become challenging or exacerbate the symptoms. This can put a damper on your regular everyday activities — including social outings you once enjoyed.
Beyond the physical discomfort and health implications, untreated pelvic prolapse can lead to a diminished quality of life. It might reduce the joy in activities you once loved, from simple things like a long walk to more strenuous activities like dancing or aerobics..
Moreover, if left unchecked, the feeling of 'something's not right down there' can lead to reduced self-confidence and intimacy issues. This is where expert guidance from a board-certified OB/GYN provider becomes crucial.
Navigating treatment options for pelvic prolapse
At Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG, our team understands that treating pelvic prolapse isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Our team evaluates your unique case to create a personalized pelvic prolapse treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Some might find relief with non-invasive treatments like pelvic support devices or Kegel exercises, which strengthen pelvic muscles. Yet, others might need more intensive interventions.
Surgery, especially when performed with cutting-edge robotic-assisted techniques, offers promising outcomes. Depending on your unique case, the type and location of the prolapse, and any underlying conditions, there's a range of surgical options to consider, including:
- Uterosacral ligaments suspension
- Vaginal vault suspension
- Pelvic organ prolapse repair
With success rates nearing perfection for robotics-assisted procedures, there’s a ray of hope when treating this frustrating condition.
Remember, the goal is not just to treat the symptoms but to provide a lasting solution that resonates with your unique needs and health profile. If you suspect you might be facing pelvic prolapse or know someone who does, don’t wait to seek help.
Connect with our team at Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada and schedule a consultation online or over the phone. Together, we can map out the best treatment for you.