Ladies, pain during sex may very well mean that you are having a pelvic organ prolapse (POP). That means the organs in the pelvic region, such as the bladder, uterus, and rectum, have dropped from their normal position and into the vagina. But don’t be frightened, as alarming as it may be, it’s reversible.
It may happen to any woman. However, Gynaecologist Kiri-an Bridgewater says postmenopausal women are at a higher risk, because of lower estrogen levels that results in weakened muscles. This includes those in the pelvis. Also, pre-menopausal women who have had multiple pregnancies, vaginal deliveries, long-standing coughs and constipation and many years of heavy lifting are at a greater risk of POP, too.
There are different types, which are classified based on the organ that has descended. If the bladder has ‘come down’ it is called a cystocele, if the rectum is affected the medical fraternity calls it a rectocele, and if it’s the uterus they say it’s a uterine prolapse.
Are you feeling a bulge in your vagina? That’s the most common sign of POP. Other indicators may include lower back and abdominal pains, difficulty urinating or passing stool, depending on which organ is prolapsed and its severity. But be careful, these can be confused with other conditions. So, leave the diagnosis to your doctor.
“Difficulty urinating or even difficulty holding your urine can be as a result of a urinary tract infection rather than prolapse. Additionally, the sensation of a bulge in the vagina can be as a result of other conditions, like a large polyp or certain types of fibroids. If a woman experiences any of these symptoms, it’s best that she visits her doctor to be assessed,” she said.
Surgical and non-surgical methods are available to remedy pelvic organ prolapse. A surgical option is typically the best option for women who have significant symptoms. The expert said it’s a scar-free procedure with minimal discomfort and hospital time. So, you’ll be able to get back to enjoying life in no time.
Those who don’t want to undergo surgery can opt to commit to exercising and using the ring pessary. “If the prolapse is mild, you can do Kegels to prevent any further worsening. The ring pessary is a plastic device that we place in the vagina to keep the organs in their correct place. It will not repair the prolapse, but it can allow you to feel more like yourself again and do your usual activities,” Dr Bridgewater said.
She further added that since the ring remains in the vagina, it too can disturb your sex life.
Story by Rocheda Bartley