Monday, August 13

Reproductive Health and Pelvic Organ Prolapse

When women are young, reproductive health is often at the forefront of their minds. The excitement of pregnancy and childbirth inspires women to lead healthy lives. However, once a woman is past her childbearing years, she may not give as much thought to her reproductive organs. However, post-childbirth and pre-menopause is a key time to focus on strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles to prevent common menopausal conditions, such as Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).

By leading a healthy lifestyle women can avoid some of the negative side effects of menopause.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Pelvic Organ Prolapse is usually diagnosed in women between the ages of 50 and 79. In fact, approximately 50 percent of all women will be diagnosed with POP in their lifetime. It occurs when the tissues and muscles surrounding the pelvic organs weaken. If they become weak enough, organs in the pelvic cavity can begin to shift and drop. In severe cases of POP, organs can begin to prolapse into the vaginal canal. The organs most affected by POP include the bladder, cervix, uterus and rectum.

Sometimes the symptoms of POP are so mild that a woman is unaware she has the condition. Her doctor will diagnose it during a routine pelvic exam. Other times, a woman can actually feel organs and tissues collapsing into her vagina. Symptoms of POP include:

• An inability to insert a tampon

• A bulging or tugging sensation in the pelvis, lower back or vagina

• Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse

• Difficulty beginning to urinate or a weakened stream

• Constipation

• Light spotting or bleeding

Reproductive Health can Reverse or Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The symptoms of POP can be prevented, or at least minimized, by maintaining reproductive health. Some things that can be done proactively include:

Focus on Overall Health: Women's reproductive health is directly related to their overall health. There are other factors linked to POP, such as smoking and obesity. By maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and eliminating unhealthy addictions, women can help to keep muscles and tissues healthy and strong.

Exercise the Core: There are exercises women can do to maintain strong core and pelvic floor muscles. These include daily Kegel exercises, Yoga and Pilates. The stronger the core and pelvic muscles are, the less likely they are to prolapse or detach from the pelvic wall.

Treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

There are a variety of treatments that can treat POP. Women who are diagnosed with POP should discuss these options with their health care professional to thoroughly understand the risks and benefits to each. Some treatments, such as a vaginal pessary, are less invasive and can be used successfully to treat mild to moderate cases of POP.

Sometimes, surgical intervention is the most effective way to treat more moderate to severe cases. One method utilizes a medical device called transvaginal mesh. This device has been linked to a large number of health complications. Mesh erosion and organ perforation are some of these major complications of the surgical mesh. Many women who have been affected by these side effects have filed mesh lawsuits. If a woman is considering surgical intervention, she should discuss which method is best for her particular set of symptoms to find the safest treatment available.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.

Read about mesh lawsuits

Read more about pelvic organ prolapse

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