As many as 50% of women experience problems with incontinence or symptoms of pelvic relaxation (prolapse) over their lifetime. If you, or someone you know is suffering from this problem, we hope you’ll talk with us. All of our doctors are board certified gynecologists as well as some of the few doctors in Hampton Roads to receive the American Board of Medical Specialties’ certification for “Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery,” also called Urogynecology.
Although many women have never heard of this subspecialty, it focuses on the very common problems of pelvic floor relaxation and problems with the urinary or lower gastrointestinal system, including incontinence.
What is pelvic organ prolapse?
Symptoms of pelvic relaxation and/or prolapse can include:
• feeling pelvic or vaginal pressure or heaviness
• feeling or seeing a vaginal bulge or protrusion
• laxity or discomfort with intercourse
• incomplete bladder or bowel emptying
There are three vaginal compartments: the anterior compartment, in which resides the bladder and anterior vaginal wall; the middle compartment, which contains the uterus or just the top of the vagina if you’ve had a hysterectomy; and the posterior compartment, which includes the posterior vaginal wall and rectum. Pelvic organ prolapse is similar to a hernia, in which one of the organs (bladder, uterus or vagina, or rectum) protrudes into the vaginal canal. In it’s most severe form, prolapsed organs will actually protrude outside the vaginal opening.
Several different treatments options are available for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse. Most often a simple office examination similar to your yearly GYN exam will be enough to start a treatment plan. Options include physical therapy, medications, in-office treatments, pessaries, or surgery.
Pelvic floor physical therapy for prolapse is performed at several different centers around Hampton Roads. During pelvic floor PT, a device similar to a tampon is placed vaginally and biofeedback is used to help stimulate and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. This type of therapy can also help with incontinence.
A pessary is a pelvic support device similar to a contraceptive diaphragm that is fit and placed during your visit to one of our GYN Clinics. Once it’s there you shouldn’t even feel it, and it can provide nearly immediate relief of pelvic relaxation and sometimes incontinence symptoms.
Our doctors can also perform pelvic reconstructive surgery to repair pelvic organs that may have “fallen down.” Prolapse can commonly be due to childbirth, but women who haven’t given birth vaginally can also suffer from it. You may have heard of a “bladder tack up.” Today, pelvic reconstructive surgeries are better than they’ve ever been. It can be an outpatient surgery or a one-night hospital visit.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us by clicking here.