This post comes to us compliments of guest author, Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.
If you are a woman who is approaching menopause or have already gone through that change in life, there are a few things you should be looking out for as far as your pelvic health is concerned. No doubt, your doctor has given you a long list of signs and symptoms of various health conditions and diseases to watch for, but there is one common health issue that many doctors forget to include on that list for their female patients: pelvic organ prolapse (POP). If you have children, you are at risk, since POP becomes an issue for nearly half of all women who have given birth, and menopause is prime time for the condition to make itself known.
What POP is and How it Happens
Pelvic organ prolapse is caused by pelvic floor stretching or weakening. The pelvic floor is the structure that supports pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum, keeping them in their proper positions to ensure that they can perform their functions efficiently. Made up of muscles and connective tissues, the pelvic floor can be gradually damaged over a woman’s lifetime.
The biggest factor in that damage is the stress placed on the pelvic floor by pregnancy and childbirth, but other factors can also contribute to the development of POP. Heavy lifting, obesity, high-impact sports, pelvic surgery, chronic coughing or frequent constipation can be risk factors, and genetics can also play a role, since POP tends to run in families.
Then, menopause comes along, bringing with it decreased estrogen levels that can reduce elasticity in the pelvic floor. This is often the last straw for weakened and stretched tissues that have been just barely maintaining support for those pelvic organs.
What to Look For
Many women who have pelvic organ prolapse have no symptoms at all. On the other hand, women who have severe POP can have symptoms that are very troublesome and have a big impact on their day-to-day lives. Among the issues reported by women with POP are pressure, pain or a lump in the vagina or pelvic area, painful sex, vaginal bleeding, urinary problems and difficult bowel movements.
In severe cases, women may see tissue protruding through the vaginal opening. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about them, since getting treated early can help keep POP from getting worse.
Women who suffer mild to moderate pelvic organ prolapse symptoms often find relief with a regimen of pelvic floor exercises, weight loss and dietary changes. A pessary is often prescribed, which is a device that is inserted into the vagina to support the organs.
Severe symptoms may require surgical intervention. However, if you have POP and surgery has been recommended, there are a few things you should be looking out for there too. Many POP repair procedures over the last decade have included the use of transvaginal mesh implants, devices that are inserted through the vagina to support pelvic organs. Unfortunately, they have been linked to a growing number of serious complications.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most frequently reported problems include mesh erosion through vaginal walls, organ perforation, mesh shrinkage and infection. These complications have caused pain for a lot of women and many times the symptoms are irreversible. This had led to the filing of a transvaginal mesh lawsuit by thousands of women seeking justice for their injuries. Often, more surgery is needed to correct these problems, and the FDA says that these procedures show no better clinical results than traditional POP repair.
Please address any questions on the above topic to the patient advocates at Public Outreach Department at DrugWatch.com: 800-452-0949.