Healthy Aging For Women: What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

September 11, 2012

Body

There are some things about aging that no one ever wants to talk about and pelvic organ prolapse — also known as a “woman’s hernia” — is one of them. As a urogynecologist, I specialize in the treatment of pelvic floor disorders, and prolapse is a very common condition that women need to be aware of.

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs become stretched, damaged or weakened, causing the organs they support to drop downward or sag. The pelvic organs that can be affected include the uterus, bladder, small intestines and also the rectum. Without proper support, one or more of these organs can drop down out of its normal position and press against the wall of the vagina, causing a bulge or protrusion.

Prolapse affects 50% of women between the ages of 50 and 79. Childbirth is the leading cause of prolapse; however, all women — even those who have never given birth — are at risk of developing the condition.

Some women have subtle symptoms, such as an inability to keep a tampon inside the vagina. Others experience more severe pain, discomfort and complications, including:

  • Pressure, heaviness, aching or a pulling feeling in the lower abdomen
  • Bulge in the vagina or organs bulging out of the vagina
  • Lower back pain
  • Leaking of urine (incontinence) or other voiding issues
  • Problems having a bowel movement
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Feeling as if something is falling out of your vagina

Unfortunately, many women have no symptoms at all, so it is important to visit a gynecologist for your annual checkup. If you are diagnosed with prolapse or have symptoms, you should consult a urogynecologist for specialized treatment.

I will be discussing this topic during our upcoming free seminar at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Women over the child-bearing stage are invited to hear brief, targeted presentations by experts from Baylor College of Medicine about menopause, hormone replacement therapy, alternatives to a hysterectomy, osteoporosis and other important women’s health topics. You’ll even have the opportunity to ask questions and meet the physicians afterwards.

Healthy Aging SeriesHealthy Aging: What Women Need to Know Now
Thursday, Sept 13, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women
6651 Main Street, Houston, TX 77030
4th floor, conference room A

Reserve your seat now! Limited seating available.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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