Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a disorder that affects the pelvic floor muscles, which span the bottom of the pelvis, forming a support structure which can be visualised as a hammock. These muscles support the pelvic organs, such as the vagina and small bowel, keeping them in place. Unfortunately, sometimes these muscles weaken or suffer from certain problems that make them unable to support the pelvic organs. This inability may result in the drooping or bulging of the organs into the vaginal canal or the anus, which is known as pelvic organ prolapse. The extent of the prolapse may range from simply feeling the bulging sensation, to being able to see it protrude from the vagina.
Pelvic organ disorders most commonly affect women who undergo childbirth, which puts a strain on their pelvic floor muscles, which weaken them. If you have recently given birth and are worried about POP, you should consult a professional for reassurance. You can find the right urologist for you at oladoc.com.
As mentioned above, pelvic organ disorders often have to do with a weakening or damaging of the pelvic floor muscles, which is more often than not a result of excess pressure being placed on the muscles. Causes of the disorder may include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Pelvic organ cancers
- Respiratory problems such as chronic coughing
- Genetic predisposition towards weak pelvic floor muscles
Types of POP
As the pelvic floor muscles support a large number of organs above the vagina and anus, pelvic organ prolapse disorders can be classified according to which organs bulge into or protrude from each canal. These disorders include:
- Cystocele: A prolapse of the bladder into the vagina (most common of these types)
- Urethrocele: A prolapse of the urethra
- Vaginal vault prolapse: a prolapse of the vagina
- Enterocele: A prolapse of the small bowel
- Rectocele: A prolapse of the rectum into the anus
Though some women may not feel any particularly noticeable symptoms, there are some signs that may signal that you have the disorder. These include:
- A feeling of pressure in the pelvic area
- A sensation of something bulging out from one’s vagina
- Urinary problems like incontinence
- Constipation or difficulty in controlling one’s bowel movements
- Difficulty having sexual intercourse due to sensations of pain
- Pain or aches in one’s lower back
These are, of course, not general symptoms, and your exact symptoms will correspond to the particular type of POP you have. For example, if you have rectocele, you will likely have recurring constipation and painful sexual intercourse. Another example of corresponding symptoms is the accompaniment of lower back pains and painful intercourse with uterine prolapse. As symptoms may overlap for a lot of these types of POP, the best way to diagnose and treat your problem is to be examined by a professional.
If pelvic organ prolapse is suspected, your physician may suggest you get multiple tests done in order to confirm the severity and type of the POP, along with confirming the disorder itself. These tests include:
- Bladder function tests
- CT, MRI or Ultrasound scans of the pelvis
- Urinary tract X-rays
- Voiding cystourethrograms, which entail taking X-ray images of the bladder before and after evacuation in order to check the proper functioning of the organ
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