Discussing issues related to your pelvic organs, which include your bladder, uterus, rectum, and small bowel, can be uncomfortable and awkward. But these health issues can affect your quality of life and need to be discussed and treated.
The muscles and tissues that support your pelvic organs are called your pelvic floor. When these pelvic muscles weaken or develop problems, often after childbirth or as you age, you may develop a pelvic floor disorder. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common pelvic floor disorder affecting about half of women in the US.
Board-certified UROGYN Jeffrey Hantes, DO, of Female Health Associates of North Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, has extensive training and expertise in diagnosing and treating pelvic floor disorders. He can help assess your issues and develop a personalized treatment plan that can help eliminate your symptoms. Here, he shares eight common signs of POP.
One of the most obvious signs of pelvic organ prolapse is a sensation of vaginal pressure or fullness. You may feel like something is protruding from or into your vaginal canal. This sensation often becomes more pronounced when standing, lifting, or straining and worsens as the day progresses.
In some cases, that feeling that something is protruding out of your vaginal canal may actually be something that’s bulging or peaking out of the opening of your vagina. This bulge is usually the prolapsed organ, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, descending into the vaginal canal. It's important to note that this visible prolapsed organ may come and go depending on your activity level.
Because POP can impact the function of nearby organs, urinary symptoms, such as urinary incontinence, frequent urination, trouble starting to urinate, or difficulty fully emptying the bladder are common signs of POP. Additionally, women with POP may experience frequent urinary tract infections.
Similarly, POP can affect the proper functioning of your rectum. You may experience symptoms, such as constipation, difficulty passing stool, or a feeling of incomplete bowel movements.
The prolapsed organs can put pressure on your vaginal walls. This pressure can lead to discomfort or pain during sex.
The strain and pressure caused by pelvic organ prolapse can lead to lower back pain. This pain may be dull or achy and might worsen with physical activity or prolonged periods of standing.
If the prolapsed organ bulges out of your vaginal canal, it can cause irritation if it rubs against your underwear or skin. As a result, you may notice spotting or bleeding in your underwear or pad.
Depending on which of your pelvic organs has prolapsed, you may have difficulty inserting a tampon or problems having your tampon stay in place comfortably. This difficulty is related to the altered anatomy caused by the prolapsed organs.
If you're experiencing any of these telltale signs of pelvic organ prolapse, call Female Health Associates of North Texas to make an appointment with Dr. Hantes or request one online.