Pelvic organ prolapse, a common but little-discussed condition in women's health

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pelvic organ prolapse isn't talked about much in women's health, however, it is a significant issue.

In fact, it affects nearly half of all women by the time they reach their 80s.

But there is help available.

"This is a normal female pelvis, split down the middle," says obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Glowacki of Temple Health as she explains pelvic organ prolapse.

Dr. Glowacki says that when the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor weaken, organs like the uterus or bladder can drop from their normal position.

Genetics are probably a big factor, but there are many others.

"Childbirth contributes, chronic constipation contributes, people that cough a lot from pulmonary issues," she says.

So does obesity or a hysterectomy.

Although 40 percent of all women have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse, it generally isn't harmful to their health.

"It's not something that you necessarily have to have treated," says Dr. Glowacki.

Fellow gynecologist Dr. Avita Pahwa says a woman should take action if pelvic prolapse limits normal activities or affects their mental health or confidence.

"If this is inhibiting you from going out and running errands, spending time outdoors with your family, doing exercise, anything that you would normally enjoy doing," says Dr. Pahwa.

She says if treatment is needed, there are a wide range of options from pelvic floor exercises to do at home, all the way to surgery.

And procedures range from surgery done internally through a natural body opening.

"Then there's minimally invasive options that are through the belly, but through small incisions that we use, that we do laparoscopically, or typically robotically," says Dr. Pahwa.

Most women go home from the hospital the same day, and complete their recovery quickly.

"Usually about, at the 6-month mark, they're like, I'm good to go," she notes.

Both Dr. Glowacki and Dr. Pahwa urge women to speak up if something bothers them.

Even if they don't need treatment, getting answers and peace of mind is priceless.
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