Sometimes, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is mild and undetectable, and women don’t realize they are experiencing it until they have a scheduled pap test. For other women, the symptoms may be more severe and/or painful. Thankfully, even when prolapse is severe, there are still many treatment options available to women.
While not life threatening, severe POP can cause pain, discomfort, problems with elimination, and a diminished quality of life. There are several types of surgery available for this condition, all with high success rates. Your type of prolapse and severity will help determine which treatment is best for you.
Symptoms tend to worsen in women with more severe prolapse, which is why treatment for this condition is so critical.1
Severe Pelvic Organ Prolapse
POP is a very common condition, affecting about 50% of women in the US.2 It happens when the uterus, bladder, or rectum (or other tissues and organs) drop from their normal position into or out of the vagina. It’s often caused by pregnancy and vaginal birth, as well as by higher body mass index (BMI), chronic coughing, chronic constipation and hysterectomies.
As previously mentioned, not all POP is severe or painful, and sometimes women won’t have symptoms at all. Noninvasive interventions, like lifestyle changes, physical therapy and pelvic floor exercises can have a significant impact in these cases.
However, when POP becomes severe, it can significantly alter your quality of life. In these cases, surgery is often required.
It is important to note that just because your prolapse symptoms are severe, that doesn’t mean your prolapse itself is severe. Only your doctor can determine the severity of your POP, by measuring how far the organ in question has moved into (or out of) your vagina. That’s why it’s so important to have regular checkups and to seek treatment if you have any symptoms.
Surgical Options for POP
Severe cases of POP often require surgery. There are a few different surgical options, and the specific chosen procedure will depend on the details of the prolapse and patient preferences, including whether a woman desires to continue to engage in vaginal intercourse.3
POP surgeries fall into two broad categories. Obliterative surgery provides support for the organs by narrowing or closing off all or part of the vagina. Penetrative sex is not possible after this procedure.
Meanwhile, reconstructive surgery seeks to repair the pelvic floor and return organs to their original position. There are a variety of these types of surgeries available, with your condition dictating the best form of treatment.
Hysterectomies are also sometimes used to treat uterine prolapse.4
Find The Right Surgeon
The type of surgery you require will depend on which organs are prolapsed, and it will usually be performed by a urogynecologist, gynecologist, or urologist.
You can begin the process of finding the right surgeon by first speaking to your family doctor.
Or, you can use our Physician Finder, which is designed to make it much easier to find a pelvic floor specialist in your area.