Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is incredibly common. Up to half of women in the United States develop some degree of this condition. In most cases, POP is asymptomatic, but if the issue advances far enough, problems can develop.
As women’s health experts, Dr. Denise Molina Furlong and our team here at Chicago Center for Women’s Health believe it’s important for women to understand conditions like POP. As with most health conditions, the earlier you can recognize a problem, the faster we can intervene.
To that end, we’ve pulled together a brief description of the five primary types of pelvic organ prolapse and how we can remedy the condition should it become symptomatic.
The organs contained within your pelvic region are supported by a network of muscles and ligaments that keep them in position. At the core of this support is your pelvic floor, which is a band of muscles that act as a hammock for your pelvic organs.
If these supportive structures become weakened or damaged, your pelvic organs can shift downward into your vaginal canal.
There are five main types of POP, which include:
This type of prolapse occurs when the front wall of your vagina loses its support, which allows your bladder to drop down into your vaginal canal.
If the support of the back wall of your vagina weakens, your rectum can shift downward and into your vaginal canal.
A weakening in the back wall of your vagina allows your intestine to descend into your vaginal canal.
The top part of your vagina collapses downward into your vaginal canal.
The support structures holding your uterus in place weaken and the organ shifts down into your vaginal canal.
As we mentioned, most women don’t experience any POP symptoms, as the prolapse is only minor. Of the women who have POP, 3% develop symptoms, and these symptoms depend upon the severity of the prolapse and which organs are involved.
That said, there are some more common signs of POP, which include:
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, we urge you to come see us for a proper diagnosis. Identified in the early stages, we can often correct POP with pelvic floor exercises and/or pessaries — devices that provide support.
If your POP is advanced, we might recommend a minimally invasive surgery to correct the problem. POP corrective surgeries are fairly common, and 200,000 are performed each year in the US.
At our practice, Dr. Furlong is a board-certified urogynecologist who specializes in these types of surgeries, so you’re in very good hands should that be your best treatment option.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, your first step is to schedule a diagnostic appointment with us so we can identify what's behind your symptoms. To get started, contact us at one of our two locations in Bedford Park or Oak Lawn, Illinois.