Pelvic Organ Prolapse - The Hidden Epidemic

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Imagine, a medical condition that affects up to 80% of all women and yet women are almost completely unaware the condition exists until they are symptomatic. The condition is pelvic organ prolapse.

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Whole Woman resources for successful non-surgical management of pelvic organ prolapse

It’s time the pelvic organ prolapse came out of the closet. For a condition that affects up to 80% of the female population, it is astonishing that the condition is virtually unknown to women until they become symptomatic.

It is difficult to imagine that the most common women’s health issue is largely unknown to women, but this is the case. Few women have ever heard of pelvic organ prolapse and yet up to eighty percent of all women will experience this condition at some point in their lives.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a related set of conditions including cystocele, rectocele and uterine prolapse. Cystocele is the bladder pushing into the vaginal space from the front. Rectocele is the rectum bulging into the vaginal space from the back. Uterine prolapse is descent of the cervix toward the vaginal opening. Most women have some level of all three types of prolapse.

The recent spate of national television commercials by class action law firms trolling for women who have undergone mesh implant surgery for has helped sensitize women to the risks of this surgery.

“Discovering this condition is emotionally devastating,” says Christine Kent, RN, founder and CEO of Whole Woman Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “While the condition is not life-threatening, the emotional impact is huge. Feeling that your body has failed you, wondering if you’ll still be attractive to your husband/partner, if they will feel the difference, is sex safe, these and a thousand other thoughts race through a woman’s mind. This emotional impact makes women especially vulnerable when they race to the gynecologist’s office.”

The gynecologist will typically off three options:

  • Do nothing and see if it gets worse
  • Referral to physical therapy, where useless "Kegel" exercises are offered
  • Fit a pessary, a silicone rubber device to push the bulges back and create greater comfort for the woman
  • Surgery, either a hysterectomy, implanting polypropylene mesh to “strengthen the vagina, or other surgical “repairs”.

Unfortunately, most women don’t understand that gynecology is a surgical discipline, and while many gynecologists will encourage women not to jump into surgery, far too many gynecologists are all too eager to rush women into the operating room.

The surgeries for pelvic organ prolapse are notoriously unreliable. It is very common that the “repair” will fail within a very few years. Women who have had mesh surgery often discover to their horror that the mesh migrates into other, critical organs, can erode into the vagina, making sex impossible. Furthermore, research shows that women are five times more likely to experience prolapse after hysterectomy, which is often the recommended “solution” for pelvic organ prolapse. There are also many potentially devastating side effects of hysterectomy, a very invasive surgery that is rarely done with any real medical justification.

“It’s time that pelvic organ prolapse came out of the closet. For a condition that affects up to 80% of the female population, it is astonishing that the condition is virtually unknown by women until they become symptomatic,” says Ms. Kent. “When I suffered a profound uterine prolapse as the result of a bladder suspension surgery, there were no resources, no information, nothing available to help me. I refused the strongly recommended hysterectomy and set out to find a non-surgical solution.”

“Much to my amazement, after years of research, it became apparent that pelvic organ prolapse technically isn’t a gynecologic problem at all. It is a postural problem and very manageable for a lifetime without dangerous surgery, if you know what to do. This is how I have successfully managed my prolapse for years and how I have taught thousands of women to do the same around the world.”

It is critically important that women become aware of this condition, understand that, while emotionally difficult, it is not life threatening, and that prolapse cannot be “fixed” with surgery. As Ms. Kent often says, “Surgery cannot make the female pelvic organ support system better. It can only make it worse.”

About Christine Kent and Whole Woman Inc.

After publication of her definitive book Saving the Whole Woman, Natural alternatives to surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence in 2003, Christine Kent, RN put up a forum on her website, http://www.wholewoman.com. Within a few weeks of teaching women online how to manage their prolapse, women began writing that their symptoms were improving. Thousands of women in more than forty countries have cancelled surgeries and are living full, physically active lives and successfully managing their prolapse without dangerous surgery.

She has also produced six DVDs and has trained Certified Whole Woman® Practitioners who are now working in Australia, the UK, Canada, and in the US.

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Lanny Goodman
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