I am partnering with Elizabeth Carrollton and Drugwatch.com to bring you this guest post on pelvic prolapse and some non-surgical treatment options. In the States, there have been recent commercial advertisements about surgical mesh causing organ prolapse. I have noticed an alarming amount of searches coming to this blog regarding this type of surgery, the mesh and its connection to endometriosis.
There are a variety of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) treatments, ranging from non-invasive to surgical intervention. Many cases of POP are considered mild and may require little to no treatment. More severe cases may require surgical intervention. Women should be educated about their options, as some surgical procedures, especially those using transvaginal mesh, are considered high risk and can cause permanent medical complications.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse occurs when women’s pelvic tissues become weak and allow organs to drop out of position. In many cases, the condition is asymptomatic, meaning the woman may feel no symptoms. Her doctor may notice weakened tissues during a pelvic exam and may recommend mild treatment. In other cases, the organs can become completely detached from the pelvic structure and may begin to prolapse into the vaginal canal. These are the cases in which surgery is most often required.
Treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
There are two types of treatment for POP: non-invasive and surgical. Surgery should always be a last resort. Women and their doctors should discuss non-invasive solutions to see if any might provide effective alternatives to surgical options.
Non-Invasive Treatment for POP
• Be healthy. Obesity and smoking are linked to POP and can exacerbate symptoms. By eating well, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking, women can help to keep their bodies, and pelvic tissues, healthy.
• Pelvic floor exercises. The muscles in the upper vagina and pelvic floor can be exercised. The most famous method of strengthening these key pelvic floor muscles is called Kegel exercises. Doing daily Kegel exercises can prevent POP, or reverse its symptoms, and can also be effective in preventing incontinence.
• Electrical stimulation. Doctors can use electrical stimulation to manually strengthen pelvic muscles. Once the desired tone has been reached, women can use Kegels to maintain pelvic floor strength.
• Physical therapy. Pelvic physical therapists can work with women to create a range of exercises that target pelvic muscles.
• Massage. Certain massage forms, such as Maya, myofascial release, and Shiatsu can help to promote healthy pelvic tissues, especially when used in conjunction with other physical therapies.
• Vaginal pessaries. A pessary is a custom-fit ring that it inserted to provide support for the upper vagina and pelvic floor. They have been used successfully to prevent the progression of POP and to prevent incontinence.
Surgical Treatment for POP
• Transvaginal mesh surgery. Transvaginal mesh surgeries have been popular since the late 1990s. Doctors use vaginal mesh to create a hammock that provides support to the pelvic floor and prevents organs from prolapsing. Unfortunately, this material has caused serious health complications in more than 10 percent of women who have had transvaginal mesh surgery to repair POP. Many of these women have sought justice through the filing of a transvaginal mesh lawsuit against makers of the mesh products.
• Traditional surgery. This type of surgery, which may involve using a woman’s own tissues to repair POP, has been used to correct POP for decades. Although any surgery poses some level of health risk, the risks associated with theseprocedures are rarely as serious as those associated with transvaginal mesh.
Women need to speak honestly and openly with their doctors to select the best, and safest, treatment for their POP symptoms.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.