Constipation, feeling of a “bulge,” discomfort with sexual intercourse.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse – Cystocoele and Small Rectocele
Age at diagnosis: 61
How did you learn about your diagnosis?
I was in the doctor’s office for something unrelated and saw a brochure with a list of symptoms including some that I had been experiencing. Pelvic Organ Prolapse? How had I never heard of that before? I spoke with my doctor and was assessed – sure enough, I was diagnosed with POP.
How did this condition impact your life?
Overall, my symptoms were mild compared to some women. But even mild symptoms are real and irritating. More importantly, from what I have learned so far, POP is progressive. I am the kind of person who takes action, so I addressed it right away.
What treatment options did you explore?
My doctor and I talked about quite a few different options – from waiting until symptoms become more of a bother to surgery. Even the options had options – how the surgery is done, what materials are used. I told my doctor I just wanted it fixed and fixed the first time.
How did you make your decision?
After researching my options I chose to be decisive. I learned that menopause increases the risk of POP which I had just finished. So I was left with a decision. The POP wasn’t going to go away on its own and I had a life to live. I chose surgery. While no surgery is pleasant or comes without risk, it looked like the most permanent fix. Cystoceles tend to have a higher recurrence rate, so my doctor and I agreed on mesh for that part of the surgery. My rectocele was small and low – a condition that responds well to just using my own tissue. The doctor repaired that without any mesh.
Please describe your surgical and recovery experience.
I chose to have the surgery through an incision in my vagina. The procedure was relatively short. There was definite pain during recovery, but not more than I would have expected. The worst part was having to take it easy. Rest? Don’t lift heavy things? For how long? But I made the commitment to closely follow the instructions from my doctor and give my body the chance it needed to heal well for the long term. Once I was allowed to be intimate again, my husband mentioned he could feel something that felt a bit rough. I went into my doctor and a small edge of the mesh was exposed. He trimmed the exposed piece in his office and gave me an estrogen crème to use while it healed. I haven’t had any problems since.
How has your life been with your chosen treatment?
My life has returned to much the same as it was before. Now that I know about POP and risks, I find myself choosing lower impact exercises – Pilates, not running – and watching what I lift.
What would you say to another woman experiencing your same type of symptoms or diagnosis?
First things first, I tell all women about POP whether or not they are having symptoms. I wish I had known about it. But if someone is experiencing symptoms, they need to think about their own life and what they want. Look at all the options and choose what fits. No option is fun, but taking action can help restore normalcy.
*This story is fictional and the information presented is only intended to represent common experiences of women receiving treatment for POP or SUI. It should be used for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. We strongly encourage you to discuss all health matters and concerns with your physician before beginning, stopping or changing any treatment strategies.