Pelvic organ prolapse can be scary to experience. Initially, you might assume that surgical repair is your only option, but this is not usually the case. Some prolapses do end up being treated surgically, but more typically, there are a few treatments your doctor will recommend trying before going the surgical route. Take a look.
Often, pelvic organ prolapse is related to a lack of estrogen. This is one reason why prolapse becomes more likely as women age; estrogen levels fall with age. The lack of estrogen can cause the pelvic floor muscles to atrophy, which makes it easier for organs like the intestines and uterus to prolapse into the vaginal canal. Taking estrogen replacement supplements can help you regain muscle tone in this region, which will ultimately correct the prolapse or keep it from becoming any worse. Keep in mind that today, estrogen replacement therapy does not have to mean injections. There are creams you can apply to the skin and patches you can wear to boost your estrogen levels.
Working out the muscles of your pelvic floor may sound a little odd, but it is possible. There are physical therapists who have built entire practices around helping women with pelvic floor weakness, and your doctor can refer you to one of them.
Typically, physical therapy for pelvic floor muscles involves biofeedback mechanisms. Sensors will be placed inside the vaginal canal and around the outside of your pelvis to measure the strength of your muscle contractions as you bear down. Your physical therapist may also give you some exercises to do at home, such as Kegels. You should not expect results overnight, but after a few weeks of physical therapy, you should start to see an improvement, and after a few months, your prolapse should remarkably improve.
Pessaries are often used in conjunction with physical therapy or estrogen treatment. Basically, a pessary is a device that is placed in the vaginal canal to prevent the organs from prolapsing. It can back up your weak muscles until your muscles become strong enough to prevent prolapse themselves. Pessaries come in many shapes and sizes, and your doctor can help find one that fits you comfortably. Over time, as your physical therapy or estrogen therapy starts taking effect, you may be able to reduce your use of the pessary and maybe stop using it altogether.
If you try the options above and do not see results within about 6 months, then you may want to explore surgery as an option. Talk to your doctor to learn more.