Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What Is It?

Pelvic organ prolapse can be scary, painful, and cause serious quality of life issues for women. Plus, it’s a subject that’s kind of taboo for a lot of women, although we are seeing more and more commercials about medications and products that might help. But what exactly is it? Correspondent Chrys Peterson sat down with Dani Zoorob, MD, FACOG, FACS, a ProMedica Physician specializing in urogynecology.

Chrys Peterson: What is pelvic organ prolapse?

Dr. Zoorob: Pelvic organic prolapse is when the bladder or uterus drops in the vagina. Structures tend to move a little bit or shift after having babies vaginally, sometimes after suffering a lifetime of constipation, and sometimes certain people have genetic conditions which predispose them to things shifting a little bit in the vagina. That’s typically what pelvic organ prolapse is.

How do we know if we have it? What are the symptoms that women feel?

Many patients feel pressure, many patients feel that they can’t empty their bladder well enough, many patients actually have to push on their vagina to help empty their bladder or their bowel, many patients see a protrusion that comes out of the vagina.

That has to be so scary, if someone is noticing and you’ve gotten to that point. I’m assuming that if you’ve gotten to that point it really does need to be fixed. So what is the fix for that, doctor?

Ideally, a surgical fix is the fix for prolapse. There are options which help alleviate the prolapse condition without surgery, but long-term, surgery is the best option.

What does the surgery entail? How long does it take and how long would you be out of commission if you had that surgery?

Depending on which part of the vagina is prolapsing. If it’s just a bladder tuck, for example, that’s an outpatient procedure around an hour long max. Typically we give a few weeks off from work just to make sure you recover well. If the uterus is dropping, however, if there’s uterine prolapse, that typically requires a little more. Sometimes you end up needing a hysterectomy, actually. The important thing is to make sure that whoever fixes the prolapse actually resuspends the vagina or puts the vagina where it’s supposed to be. Otherwise the prolapse will come back very fast after the surgery.

Yes, and we all want things in the right position! Is this something that would also hamper sexual relations for women?

Very often it scares the partner or the husband because they see the protrusion; they fear for hurting their wife or their sexual partner. For ladies, it feels uncomfortable; sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure. It’s about quality of life.

One of the big, important things is to make sure you have the right person looking at you and making sure that they are doing that surgical procedure. And you are a board-certified urogynecologist. What exactly is that?

A urogynecologist is a physician who has trained extra–typically three extra years after completing an OB/Gyn residency. All we focus on is prolapse and incontinence. That’s all you do in those three years. So you literally have a lot of experience in this. You can deal with any complication, you can deal with any case that you have to see in the office.

Ladies, don’t live in the closet with either of these conditions. If you have a prolapse problem, incontinence problem, talk to your primary care physician or your OB/Gyn about it and make sure that you get to a specialist like Dr. Zoorob to make sure that you have all the options available to you. 

1 in 5 women suffers from pelvic floor disorder, including pelvic organ prolapse.

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