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Pelvic Organ Prolapse

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Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) or Dropped Bladder

If you’re a woman of a certain age, who is experiencing specific set of symptoms, the condition “Pelvic Organ Prolapse” or “Dropped Bladder” may be bandied about often. So, how exactly can your pelvic organs prolapse? Well, use and abuse of being a woman, having children or simply having an active lifestyle.

You see, the pelvic floor is the group of muscles that form what resembles a sling or hammock across the opening of your pelvis. They work with surrounding tissue to keep pelvic organs in place and functioning properly.

If the muscles in your pelvic floor aren’t working properly or have been stressed or otherwise damaged, you could experience pelvic organ prolapse or dropped bladder.

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

Every woman experiences the slow onset of pelvic organ prolapse differently, but some of the most common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse or dropped bladder include:

  • Feeling like you have something inside your vagina
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Pelvic pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty urinating
  • A feeling that the bladder is not empty immediately after urinating
  • More frequent bladder infections
  • Painful intercourse
  • Low back pain

Causes and Risk Factors of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

As explained, the pelvic floor is made up of several muscles that support your organs like a hammock. When your pelvic muscles and connective tissues weaken or are injured from childbirth or aging, they don’t support your organs, thus allowing them to fall out of place, or prolapse.

The following factors can cause prolapsed organs or dropped bladder:

  • Pregnancy (regardless of how you deliver)
  • Vaginal delivery can stretch and strain the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Menopause causes a drop in estrogen, a hormone that helps maintain the strength and health of muscles in the vagina.
  • Straining from lifting heavy objects, straining during bowel movements, having a long-term condition that involves coughing, or having long-term constipation may damage the muscles of the pelvic floor.
  • Smoking

Tests to Diagnose Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

The doctors at A Place for Women will start with a medical history, do a physical examination and perform other tests to diagnose the cause of your pelvic organ prolapse or dropped bladder.

Your doctor may recommend additional tests to aid in diagnosis including:

  • Physical exam
  • Cystogram, an X-ray of your bladder using special dye to follow the flow of urine through a series of images.
  • Cystoscopy uses a thin tube with a tiny lens inserted into your urethra to look for abnormalities in your urinary tract.
  • Urodynamic testing to measure pressure in your bladder when it's at rest and when it's filling to determine your bladder strength and urinary sphincter health.

Treatment and Procedures for Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

Treatment for pelvic organ prolapse or dropped bladder depends how your body is affected by the weakened or damaged muscles.

Mild cases of prolapse may be treated with lifestyle changes and exercises to strengthen the muscles, such as Kegel exercises.

Other cases may require more aggressive treatments including:

  • A pessary, a stiff ring inserted into the vagina to support the bladder
  • Estrogen replacement therapy to help strengthen pelvic muscles
  • Your doctor may recommend surgery to correct severe dropped bladder or pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Sling procedures which use strips of your body’s tissue, syntheic material or mesh to create a pelvic sling or hammock around your bladder neck and urethra to keep the urethra closed, especially when you cough or sneeze.

To learn more about the causes and solutions for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or a dropped bladder, contact A Place for Women.