What is pelvic organ prolapse?
The muscles of the pelvic floor support your uterus and other pelvic organs in conjunction with ligament tissue. These support structures can weaken and fail for several reasons, most frequently as a result of a combination of childbirth and aging. This may allow the organs of the pelvis to slip down and interfere with each other.
Most common is uterine prolapse, where the uterus pushes into the vagina. This may produce few or no symptoms, or there may be a variety of complications, some or all of which may affect you. These include:
- Urine leakage or retention
- Sensations of fullness or pulling in your vagina
- Feelings of looseness in your vagina
- Changes to the sensations of intercourse
- Protruding tissue from your vagina
- Difficulties with bowel movements
How is pelvic organ prolapse treated?
For many women, prolapse produces only minor symptoms, if any at all. If you’re one of these women, your caregiver at Broadview OBGYN may advise keeping a close watch on symptoms and regular checkups.
Conservative treatments include Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles, or use of a pessary, which provides an alternate means of support for pelvic organs. When symptoms are severe, or when other treatments don’t produce satisfactory results, prolapse surgery may be needed.
What happens during prolapse surgery?
Prolapse surgery is most often a reconstructive process with several approaches, depending on how the prolapse condition affects you. In some cases, the surgery may repair your own tissue.
Organs are suspended or fixed in place using ligaments and other tissue. Frequently, these surgical approaches can be done with minimally invasive techniques, reducing both recovery time and the impact on surrounding tissue when compared with conventional abdominal surgery.
Mesh placed in the vagina is another approach, but it has a high risk of complications, so it is typically reserved for cases where previous surgery has failed. Since pelvic organ prolapse is strongly connected to pregnancy and childbirth, in most cases surgery should be postponed until you’re finished having children.
What can I expect with recovery from prolapse surgery?
Recovery depends heavily on your particular case. Minimally invasive surgery generally heals faster than abdominal approaches, but you can expect several weeks of downtime from work and abstinence from intercourse. Your Broadview OBGYN surgeon will provide you with specifics about your recovery.