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Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition in which the bladder, uterus, rectum, or small intestine sags from its normal position into the vagina. This is caused by a weakening of muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor. Prolapse can happen after pregnancy or a hysterectomy. Depending on the organ(s) involved and degree of prolapse, symptoms may include fecal or urinary incontinence, chronic constipation related to outlet dysfunction, and pain during sex. POP is very common. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, POP affects 1 in 4 women in their forties, 1 in 3 in their sixties, and half of women in their eighties.

Treatment of POP varies depending on the woman’s lifestyle and personal preference, the symptoms, and the degree of severity. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and doing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor may help. Some women use a device called a pessary, which fits inside the vagina and supports the pelvic organs. Surgery is the most definitive approach to pelvic organ prolapse. Surgical approaches range from vaginal only and laparoscopic assisted to robotic procedures. Open surgery is rarely necessary.