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Female Pelvic Health

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse is a common condition that can occur in up to 50% of women, when the organs in the pelvic cavity drop or prolapse, from their normal position. In women, these organs include the bladder, vagina, rectum, uterus and cervix. The most common reason for pelvic organ prolapse is when the pelvic ligaments and muscles become weakened or injured and can no longer support these organs. Weakening of the pelvic floor is most often due to age-related physical changes, childbirth (especially multiple births) or post-surgical complications. In many cases this condition is not bothersome and many women may not even know they have it, however, in some, the condition may lead to distressing symptoms and may require treatment.

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Recognizing the Signs of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The most common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse are:

  • Involuntary loss of urine
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
  • Feeling a bulge or sensation of pressure in your vagina or pelvis
  • Feeling or seeing something coming out of your vagina
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic or vaginal discomfort

Comprehensive Treatment Options for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The expert female pelvic health team at University Hospitals offers women a full range of treatment options to help improve both function and quality of life. We take a personalized approach to the care of each woman and look at all available options for treatment, not just surgery. Nonsurgical treatment options may include:

  • Pessaries: A device that is inserted into the vagina to help support and strengthen the pelvic floor. A pessary can be managed by the patient herself or with the help of your doctor, it often requires minimal care and is very effective in alleviating bothersome pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.
  • Physical therapy: A specially trained pelvic floor therapist will work with you to learn exercises that will help alleviate some of the bothersome symptoms that might be associated with pelvic organ prolapse.

Surgical Treatment Options for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Related Research Studies

UH Urology Institute is enrolling women with uterovaginal prolapse in a study to compare the two most common corrective surgeries. Learn more about eligibility and the study or contact the study coordinator at 216-286-1094.

If conservative therapies are not successful or women develop significant pelvic organ prolapse, our fellowship-trained surgeons are highly experienced in transvaginal, open abdominal, laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and other complex pelvic floor disorders, including vesicovaginal fistulas.

Surgical procedures may include:

  • Robotic-assisted hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
  • Robotic-assisted sacrocolpopexy (repair of vaginal prolapse)
  • Revisional surgery (provide additional support for women who have had a previous pelvic floor surgery)

These procedures may provide relief and improve quality of life for women with pelvic organ prolapse and associated urinary incontinence. In addition, we use the most advanced minimally invasive techniques which often results in less pain, less bleeding and faster recovery.

Feeling a bulge down there?

One of our women’s health experts explains pelvic organ prolapse: What it is, why it occurs and how it is treated.

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