One of the most common women’s health issues, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) has been medically documented for more than 4,000 years. Since some women don’t show symptoms of POP, and those who do show it are often too embarrassed or confused to ask for help, it’s important to be aware of how POP affects the female body and just how common it is.
The most common symptom of POP is the uterus, or other organs, pressing against the vaginal wall. This pressure can cause vaginal discomfort and cause pelvic organs to function abnormally.
Symptoms other than the telltale pelvic pressure include:
- The sensation that something is falling out of the vagina
- Vaginal spotting and/or bleeding
- Experiencing pain during intercourse
- Issues with urination, including incontinence (involuntary release of urine), frequent sensations of needing to urinate, most often at night
- Bowel related problems, such as constipation
Women experiencing any of these symptoms should immediately contact their family doctor, urologist or gynecologist in order to be tested and diagnosed with POP.
Women most likely to suffer from POP will have experienced at least one of the following: vaginal childbirth, menopause, constipation/IBS, chronic coughing, rigorous exercise or heavy lifting, other family members diagnosed with POP and neuromuscular diseases. Women seeking medical attention for symptoms should notify their providers if any of these causes are part of their medical history.
Some providers and their patients will enter a stage known as “watchful waiting,” when symptoms and conditions are monitored in order to decide, going forward, if and how to provide treatment.
Tests for POP will begin with a pelvic examination. From there, the provider will determine the best course of action for additional tests.
If you feel you may be suffering symptoms of POP, or your medical history includes many of the known causes of POP, contact Associated Urologists of North Carolina in order to set up an appointment with one of our certified urological specialists. Our main office and administrative phone number is 919-758-8677, and the contact information and driving directions for all eight of our regional offices can be found on our website.