Lots of women have pelvic organ prolapse (POP). And lots of women with the condition also want to get pregnant, leading to the next logical question: can you get pregnant with pelvic organ prolapse?
Good news! You can still get pregnant if you have POP. That said, if POP makes sex painful for you, you may find it more challenging to conceive naturally. And POP presents extra challenges during pregnancy and delivery—which is why women with POP who want to have children should speak to their doctors.
Here’s what you need to know.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
As you probably know if you’re worried about POP and fertility, prolapse is a condition where one of the pelvic organs (primarily the uterus, bladder, or rectum) drops into or out of the vagina (or sometimes the anus). While not life threatening, POP can be uncomfortable, make penetration painful or difficult, and/or affect the quality of your life.
POP happens when the pelvic floor muscles, which are supposed to hold up your pelvic organs, become too weak to do so. Perhaps ironically for any woman who would like to have more than one child, pregnancy is one of the biggest culprits of the condition.
That said, POP is certainly not a life sentence, nor will it prevent you from becoming pregnant. It’s also not a given. Doing things like Kegels and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or treat POP. And there are many other surgical and non-surgical treatments available—learn more about treatment options for POP here.
All of which is to say that if you suspect you have this condition, and especially if you would like to have more children, then you should speak to your doctor. There’s simply no reason to suffer in silence!
It’s also important to note that surgical options are typically only available to women who are positive they don’t have to have more children. This isn’t because the surgery will make you infertile, but because future pregnancies may lead to more POP.
“With very few exceptions, we don’t repair prolapse until women are 100% done having children,” says Dr. Levin of Penn Medicine. “If we repair your prolapse and then you carry another pregnancy, we may be right back where we started.”
POP & Fertility
POP alone won’t make you infertile. But like we’ve covered, it can make penetrative sex painful or uncomfortable. If this is the case for you, you may want to speak to your doctor about IVF or other fertility treatments. The following resources might also help:
- Causes and Treatment of Pelvic Pain During Sex
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy For Painful Sex
- Sex Positions To Reduce Pelvic Pain
POP & Pregnancy
Finally, given the realities of POP, you may be wondering if you even want to get pregnant if you have the condition.
Again, it’s always important to talk to your doctor about your condition and your concerns. That said, you can have a healthy baby if you have POP, although your pregnancy will have to be closely monitored.
According to the Journal of Medical Case Reports, “pregnancy during uterine prolapse is possible and that careful assessment is required to prevent complications during delivery. According to our experience, an elective caesarean section near term could be the safest mode of delivery.” 1
Our advice? Speak with a pelvic floor specialist if you think you have POP or are at risk for developing it, whether or not you plan to get pregnant. You can use our Physician Finder to find one in your area.