Pelvic Organ Prolapse
My guest is Sherrie Palm, who is the founder and CEO of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support. In addition, Sherrie wrote a great book called Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic that delves deeper into the subject of this episode: Pelvic Organ Prolapse or POP for short.
Driven by Sherrie’s expertise and research on the subject, this talk demystifies the condition and shines a light on treatment options, causes, challenges, and ultimately the ways to manage the condition and live freely with it. Such an important episode that I am glad I have the opportunity to share with you. Enjoy!
Pelvic Organ Prolapse and its Causes
For those who are not aware of the condition, Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are weakened over time and cannot provide adequate support for the sexual organs atop the pelvic floor. There are 5 different types of P.O.P. as Sherrie states: it can affect your bladder, rectum, uterus, intestine, and colon.
Sherrie also says that the most common cause of POP is childbirth. But it can also be caused by menopause because as estrogen is depleted within the body, muscles grow weaker and lose their supportive function throughout the body. In relation to this, heavy lifting can also cause POP.
She says that women typically have more than one cause for developing POP. She goes into a lot of shocking facts and stats on the causes for POP within. Be sure to listen for that.
The Most Common Symptoms of POP
Sherrie says that feeling a bulge or tumor-like presence coming out of the vagina is a common symptom of POP. Additionally, urinary incontinence is a big indicator for developing the condition. Frequent constipation, pain during intercourse and lack of sexual sensation are also common indicators as well.
“A Push for Patient Empowerment”
Sherrie shares how many gynecologists are not looking for POP symptoms, and it can actually be hard for them to diagnose if they don’t know that they’re looking for the physical manifestations of the condition.
Sherrie states that there are a lot of pushes for correct screening protocols, including a standing screening procedure because it’s easier to notice any prolapsed tissue from that position. She suggests taking a handheld mirror, standing, and then to examine yourself to see if there are any protruding tissue from your vagina. There are varying degrees of tissue bulge, and she says that any at all is a red flag.
She goes into detail on surgical and non-surgical treatments for POP as well, which you should really take into consideration.
What Will POP Mean for Sexual Function?
Sherrie says that this condition significantly affects women, as they are usually sexually stigmatized by any vaginal tissue bulge. This can translate to a lack of desire and intimacy as body image issues arise. A whole cycle of sexual avoidance can occur if POP happens, even if it’s not a severe case.
Again, responses are unique and can vary from partner to partner, but POP definitely increases the likelihood of sexual self-consciousness, as it can be an emotionally devastating medical condition.
She also states that the incontinence and physical symptoms of the condition can lead to intimacy difficulties as they can be embarrassing for some. But Sherrie states that the biggest way of overcoming some of these struggles of the condition is to educate yourself about the condition itself.
Once the fear of the unknown diminishes, you can become more comfortable with the condition and experiment with whatever positions and dynamics work best. You can also opt for surgical treatment as well, which can drastically improve symptoms.
Key Links for Sherrie:
For the homepage of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (explore for a lot of great resources): https://www.pelvicorganprolapsesupport.org/