In case you haven’t heard, Urology Austin has added a new, female board-certified urologist to our team – Dr. Ngoc-Bich ‘Nikki’ Le. She comes from Duke University Hospital and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and skill in treating urologic conditions, including one that many women don’t like to talk about: pelvic organ prolapse, or POP.
POP happens when a woman’s internal pelvic organs, including the vagina, bladder and/or uterus fall prey to gravity and start to sag and slip out of place. So what does this translate to in terms of affecting a woman’s quality of life?
Women with POP may report sense of pelvic heaviness, an uncomfortable vaginal bulge, difficulty emptying their bowel or bladder, urinary frequency and urgency, or, less commonly, ulcers of the vaginal wall and urinary obstruction.
Question: What are the symptoms of POP?
See the previous paragraph
Question: Who is typically affected by POP?
Dr. Le: POP most commonly strikes post-menopausal women, but younger women can also be affected. Also, those who’ve had children are more likely to suffer from it, but that doesn’t exclude women who haven’t had kids.
Question: Why do some women never seek treatment?
Dr. Le: Many women aren’t aware that POP can occur. When they notice it, they may be concerned, but too embarrassed to bring it up to their physician. Other women don’t know that treatment is available and therefore believe that they need to just tolerate the symptoms.
Question: How can POP affect a woman’s quality of life?
Dr. Le: Some women avoid social situations due to embarrassment of the bulge or the overactive bladder symptoms that POP can exacerbate. The pelvic heaviness and discomfort and compromise their quality of life. POP can lead others to avoid intimacy with their partners because they are self-conscious.
Question: What are the treatment options for POP?
A pessary is a nonsurgical option to manage POP. It’s a small plastic or silicone device that a physician inserts into the vagina and women can easily remove it themselves.
Surgical options may include pelvic floor reconstruction, which may require a short hospital stay. Most women will experience some discomfort for about two weeks after surgery, but most will be at 80% activity level within four weeks of surgery.
Question: When should a woman seek treatment?
Dr. Le: When bladder issues disturb your quality of life, it’s time to call a urologist. This includes pelvic heaviness, difficulty with bladder and/or bowel emptying, bothersome bulge, or overactive bladder symptoms (urinary urgency, frequency, and urge incontinence).
For more information about Dr. Le and the latest POP treatment options, click here.