Pelvic Organ Prolapse Risk Factors
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is the weakening of the floor of the pelvis in a woman, allowing the organs to bulge into or prolapse into the vagina. The prolapse can be severe enough that the organs sometimes bulge through the opening of the vagina. It also is possible for more than one organ in the pelvis to prolapse simultaneously.
The five organs that might prolapse are:
- The bladder: when the bladder prolapses it is called a cystocele
- The uterus: this is called procidentia when the uterus prolapses
- The rectum: when the rectum prolapses, it is called rectocele
- The top of the vagina: this is called apical prolapse
- The bowel: this is called enterocele
Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The most common cause of pelvic organ prolapse is strain during childbirth. Normally, the pelvic organs are kept in place by the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue in the lower abdomen. During childbirth, a lot of pressure is put on these tissues and they become stretched. If they are weakened enough and are no longer sufficiently strong to hold the abdominal organs in place, these organs can then slip into the vagina.
Having the uterus removed, i.e., a hysterectomy, also can lead to POP. The uterus normally helps to keep the other organs in place. Other risk factors that can cause weakening of the floor of the pelvis or put weight on it include:
- A prolonged cough
- Persistent constipation
- A tumor on any of the organs in the pelvis
- Weakening of the tissue with age
POP occurs more often in older women and those who have a family history of the condition.
In milder cases, POP can be treated by doing special exercises that strengthen the tissues. Losing weight if you are obese also can help. You should avoid lifting heavy items because doing so strains the muscles and other supporting tissues. Doctors will tell you to drink less caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and will make you urinate more often.
If these approaches don't work or your prolapse is more severe, you may use a pessary, a device that is inserted into the vagina and keeps the organs in place. The prolapse, however, if too severe, will not be helped by a pessary. In this case, surgery to sew the organs into place is another option.
Find out more information by contacting our transvaginal mesh attorneys.