Pelvic Organ Prolapse
i.e., Cystocele, Rectocele, Uterine Prolapse, Enterocele
When the organs in your pelvic region (bladder, uterus, colon) shift out of place or fall it is called pelvic organ prolapse. You may experience occasional or prolonged sense of heaviness or pressure. This may be accompanied by bladder or bowel problems.
If you suffer from this inconvenience Kathleen Martin, M.D., F.A.C.O., G, is here to help. Dr. Martin, an expert in treating pelvic organ prolapse, is one of Maine’s leading urogynecologists.
Let Dr. Martin perform an evaluation and review options appropriate for you. Contact Dr. Martin today at 207-777-4200 or fill out our request form for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Frequently asked Questions about Pelvic Organ Prolapse:
What does “prolapsed” mean?
Prolapse literally means "to fall out of place." Another way to think of it is as a hernia of the vagina. When the front side of the vagina has fallen, it is called a cystocele; when the back side has fallen, it is called a rectocele; and when the top of the vagina has fallen it is called either uterine prolapse or enterocele (referring to bowel).
What caused my prolapse?
This really depends on which type of prolapse you have. Usually, a prolapse occurs slowly over a period of time. The very first sign can be subtle, such as feeling a vaginal lump or having difficulty keeping a tampon inside the vagina. Genetics can also play a role. Everyone inherits genes that determine the strength of their tissues. Some people have a tendency toward weaker tissues. Also if a woman needs to take steroids (such as prednisone) for an extended period of time, this can also weaken tissues. For example, diabetics also have a tendency to weaker tissues.
What will happen if I just ignore this problem? Will it get worse?
It may not happen quickly but if not treated pelvic organ prolapse can get worse.
Do I need to have surgery for my prolapse?
There are several non-surgical treatment options to choose from that Dr. Martin can discuss with you. One option include wearing a pessary, which is like a diaphragm that provides support.
Will wearing a pessary give me an infection?
Infections are rare as long as you follow the protocol of using the prescribed vaginal cream. Your pessary will be cleaned and checked every three months during your office visit. If you are sexually active, your doctor will teach you how to remove and replace the pessary.
I have a pelvic organ prolapse, but I don’t leak urine. Do I need bladder testing?
You will need bladder testing if you are going to have surgery to correct your problem. There is a risk that urinary incontinence can occur after the surgery. A urodynamics test is a way to assess your bladder function prior to surgery to anticipate your risk of incontinence after surgery.
If I decide to have surgery, what can I expect during the recovery period?
Dr. Martin and her staff have created an information packet that will help you understand what you need to do before and after your surgery. It is available here as a PDF file for download:
Women's Health Associates Urogynecology Preoperative Packet (pdf format)
If my surgery is successful, how long will it last?
Dr. Martin’s goal for the surgery is to recreate normal anatomy permanently. Women who follow the recommended restrictions for up to 12 weeks after surgery usually have the best chance for permanent surgical success. However, nothing is foolproof.
How will my prolapse treatment affect my sex life?
Your sex life shouldn't change except if you have a pessary. The pessary needs to be removed prior to intercourse. If your condition required surgery you should wait 8 to 12 weeks after surgery to have intercourse. After that, it may take some time to get used to having intercourse, but most women report that they have a healthy sex life.