A urogynecologist is a doctor with special training in disorders that affect the pelvic floors or bladder of women. What that means is these specialists help women who have had a pelvic floor collapse, which occurs sometimes after childbirth or due to other causes such as genetics and age.
The affected structures are usually the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves found in the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. When this “floor” of the pelvis gives way, it can cause conditions like fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, stress incontinence, drooping of the pelvic organs (pelvic organ prolapse), and more.
When pelvic organ prolapse occurs, the pelvic floor has weakened to the point that the structures that support the vagina, urethra, bladder, and more, have been forced down into the uterus and can cause all sorts of embarrassing conditions, including a noticeable bulging by the vagina.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common problem, yet it is something not much discussed. You may be surprised to learn that it will affect nearly half of all women at some point during their lives. Some women will experience it to a lesser degree and remain asymptomatic, while others may have every symptom possible and require surgery to repair the pelvic floor.
There are nearly 300,000 surgeries annually in the United States alone for POP. Nearly one-third of those will require a second surgery to repair their prolapse.
Why Does It Happen?
The pubococcygeus muscles (PC) are a trampoline-like set of muscles that sit at the base of the abdominal cavity to support the reproductive organs above them. Pelvic prolapse occurs when one or more of those muscles weakens and presses some or all of the organs through the “floor” of the pelvis. The severity of POP is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 being the mildest and 4 meaning the uterus has fallen completely outside of the body.
Vaginal childbirth and menopause are the two most common causes of POP.
There are five unique types of POP. Some of the symptoms of POP include tissue bulging from the vagina, pain, pressure and “fullness” in the vagina, rectum, or both. Other signs are urinary or fecal incontinence, retention of urine, back and pelvic pain, tampons being forced out, lack of sexual sensation, and painful intercourse.
If you are having symptoms associated with pelvic organ prolapse or other urogynecology disorders, contact University OBGYN Associates by calling (315) 464-5162 or request an appointment now. Don’t let bladder or pelvic floor disorders take over your life.