Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more of the pelvic organs slip out of position and bulge into a woman’s vagina. Anything that increases the pressure in the abdomen can lead to prolapse, including pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, respiratory problems that cause a long-term cough, constipation, pelvic organ cancers, and removal of the uterus.
Some women with pelvic organ prolapse do not experience any symptoms, while others report a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the pelvic area, pain in the lower back, and a sensation of something drooping down or out of the vagina. Other common symptoms include difficulty passing urine and stools. The symptoms experienced often depend on the type of organ that is drooping. For example, women suffering from bladder prolapse may experience urine leakage, while those suffering from rectal prolapse may experience difficulty passing stools.
Women who notice any of the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse should visit their physician for an internal examination of their pelvis. Due to the intimate nature of their problem, some women may feel reluctant to visit their physician. However, an internal examination is a painless procedure that only takes a few minutes to perform.
Many women with prolapse do not require surgical treatment. However, those with mild to moderate prolapse should take steps to help improve their condition or reduce the risk of it worsening. These may include performing regular pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine from the bladder, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a high-fiber diet to avoid bowel problems, and avoiding heavy lifting and prolonged standing. Women who smoke should quit because the persistent cough that can result from smoking may make their prolapse worse.
If these steps do not work, women may wish to try hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While there is little evidence to suggest that this treatment resolves pelvic organ prolapse, it can help relieve some of the symptoms of the condition, including vaginal dryness and discomfort. HRT increases the level of a hormone called estrogen in women who have been through menopause.
Women who require surgical treatment may be a candidate for a DaVinci robot sacrocolpopexy, a surgical technique that allows a surgeon to repair prolapse without having to make large cuts in the skin. The DaVinci robot, which comprises a 3D high-definition vision system and small instruments that bend and rotate beyond the scope of a human wrist, allows a surgeon to operate with enhanced precision, control and dexterity, and enables women to benefit from faster recovery times and reduced pain, discomfort and scarring.
Women with pelvic organ prolapse should talk to their physician to decide whether DaVinci robot surgery is right for them. While most women experience an improved quality of life following surgery, there is a small risk of problems remaining or worsening. Serious complications are rare, but include bowel blockages, painful urination and urinary infections. Women should therefore review all their available treatment options with a doctor at the Woodlands OBGYN Associates before undergoing DaVinci robot surgery. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.