There was a woman, let’s call her Cindy, who started experiencing pain every time she had intercourse with her husband. She didn’t think much about it and figured it would just go away on its own. But then other strange symptoms started cropping up. After being on her feet all day, Cindy started feeling this pressure, as if something was pushing down on her vagina. Cindy definitely thought this was weird, but it wasn’t enough of a concern for her to tell anyone.
Cindy went on for years feeling discomfort and pressure down there. She also started experiencing constipation and the pain during sex just got worse. By the time Cindy finally came to Aguirre Specialty Care, her symptoms had become so severe that she had trouble walking and working. She could barely function in her daily life!
The incredible — and concerning — part about this story isn’t Cindy’s symptoms. It’s the fact that she was able to wait for so long before receiving the care and treatment she deserved. We’re telling Cindy’s story because it’s like so many of our patients’ stories. We see Cindy’s experience over and over again: Women putting off their comfort and wellness because they are afraid to speak up, or don’t think their symptoms are worth making a fuss.
We’re here to tell you that your symptoms are valid and treatable! It’s never too soon or too late to seek the help and treatment you deserve.
You’re probably dying to know: Cindy was suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP), which occurs when your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum) drop because they are no longer supported by your pelvic floor. Pelvic prolapse can occur when the pelvic floor is damaged and weakened, which is why it’s considered a complication after childbirth, which can be extremely damaging to a woman’s internal organs.
In the early stages of pelvic organ prolapse, common symptoms can include pain during intercourse and a feeling of pressure. As the condition progresses, as Cindy’s did, the pelvic organs start falling, but are still contained in the vagina. By the time Cindy sought treatment at Aguirre Specialty Care, her pelvic organs had fallen to the point where she could see a bulge protruding from her vagina. Cindy was at stage three of POP. Stage four occurs when the pelvic organs fall completely through the vaginal opening.
How exactly can your organs fall?
We know it sounds scary, the idea of your pelvic organs falling! How does this happen? Think of your pelvic floor as a special hammock. This amazing hammock is a complex network of muscles, ligaments and fibers which all work to support your pelvic organs and keep them up. When this hammock is weakened, those organs can drop.
It’s important to note that there are different types of POP, depending on where the weakness in the pelvic floor occurs. POP may affect one or multiple organs of the pelvis.
- Cystocele is a type of POP that occurs on the front side of the vaginal wall near the bladder. It’s also referred to as a dropped bladder.
- Enterocele refers to a weak spot in the vaginal ceiling causing small bowel to prolapse into the vagina.
- Rectocele occurs when there are defects of the backside vaginal wall near the rectum.
- Uterine or Apical prolapse is due to ligament detachments or stretching.
Determining the location of the weakness is crucial in prescribing the right treatment. The good news is that Dr. Oscar A. Aguirre specializes in pelvic floor disorders! He has successfully treated thousands of POP patients and can help you, too. It is also important to note that POP often occurs in conjunction with other problems. Applying his years of expertise, Dr. Aguirre carefully evaluates each patient he sees, taking into consideration all the possible variables that may need to be addressed.
Possible POP treatments at Aguirre Specialty Care include:
- Kegels involve squeezing and releasing the muscles of your pelvic floor (think of the muscles you tighten to hold in gas). Kegels can help strengthen the pelvic floor and improve your symptoms.
- Biofeedback is a training technique that helps patients gain control over targeted muscle groups. Depending on your needs, biofeedback can include a variety of tools, including weighted vaginal cones or surface electromyography (sEMG), a device that measures the electrical activity of the pelvic floor and graphs the output so you can clearly see your progress.
- Vaginal Pessary is a removable diaphragm-like device worn in the vagina. It can support a prolapsing anterior or posterior vaginal wall as well as a prolapsing uterus. There are a variety of types and sizes of pessaries available thus two or more office visits are required to find the best fit that comfortably provides support and alleviates the bothersome symptoms.
- Surgery is highly effective and will be tailored to meet your exact needs, depending on which type of prolapse you are experiencing. Dr. Aguirre performs nearly all of his surgeries via a transvaginal route, the least invasive approach, in an outpatient setting at fully accredited Ambulatory Surgical Centers.
Put yourself first this summer and reach out to us today! For more information on POP or anything else you are interested in or concerned about, please call 303-322-0500 or request a consultation online.