Have you talked to your doctor about pelvic floor prolapse?

486858777Don’t let the buzz around surgical mesh stop you from seeking help from your doctor for pelvic floor prolapse. I know, I’ve seen the media reports and heard the commercials about the negatives of using surgical mesh. As a physician, I’ve also been monitoring reports from the Food and Drug Administration because it’s important to me that I have the most up-to-date information for my patients. In addition, I have also served as an expert witness in some of the mesh litigation and consequently have inside knowledge to what is being discussed within the courts.

The thing is, if you are experiencing symptoms of prolapse, there are surgical options available to you that do not involve surgical mesh, and as I discussed in the first post, some women do not require an invasive treatment like surgery.

What if surgery is the best option? The next step requires talking to your physicians about a few important topics. First, are you done having children? For women with prolapse who want more children, surgery is not the ideal treatment. We usually wait for women to complete their family before proceeding with surgery for prolapse. And like with other types of surgeries, we need to talk about your age and other medical conditions to make sure surgery is the best option for you now.

Based on the seriousness of your pelvic floor prolapse and your wishes, the following surgical options are usually available:

  • Hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes a woman’s uterus. You and your doctor can discuss if you need a full (remove uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries) or a partial hysterectomy. This procedure can be done vaginally or through your abdomen, laparoscopically which means with small incisions or through a regular incision. Our OB/GYN governing bodies as well as all existing medical literature suggests that the vaginal route is the safest and most cost effective. Again, this is something you’ll want to discuss with your doctor to make an informed decision. Hysterectomy alone does not cure prolapse!
  • Reconstructive surgery. This type of procedure, can also be done vaginally or abdominally depending on your needs and severity of the pelvic floor prolapse. There are a few different kinds of reconstructive surgery. Surgeons can sometimes use your own tissues to correct the prolapse, and can suspend the uterus or vagina by attaching them to near by ligaments.

During each of these procedures, we can usually correct other issues at the same time. Women who have surgery to correct pelvic floor prolapse usually need to take a few to six weeks off of work and restrain from exercising, lifting and other activities until healing is complete.

What if you had this procedure and your physician used surgical mesh to treat your pelvic floor prolapse? If you are like thousands of other patients who have had mesh surgery and are having no symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding or severe pain with sex, then you don’t need to take any further actions.  If you are having problems or your prolapse has returned make an appointment to speak with a urogynecologist. We can discuss the options that are best for you. You should be aware that there are only select physicians who feel comfortable and are willing and trained to handle such problems.

The fact is, treatment options are available for women with pelvic floor prolapse. Options that will allow you to feel more like yourself. This is not a condition you should be ashamed of or afraid to discuss with your doctor. It’s estimated that 40 percent of women have some form of prolapse—you are not alone. And while not all women with pelvic floor prolapse, experience pain or discomfort, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your doctor about all the many options to treat this condition.

I know for me, my goal is to help my patients feel better physically and mentally. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment today to talk to your doctor. If you’d like to learn more about  UofL Physicians – Urogynecology (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery), click here. We’d be happy to help you find a treatment that’s right for you.

To read part one of this blog post, click here. Or learn more about pelvic floor disorders in this video.

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About Sean Francis, M.D.

Dr. Sean Francis, who leads UofL Physicians – Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, is one of only a few physicians in the Louisville area who has had this fellowship training and is board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (urogynecology). Dr. Francis is also the interim chair of the UofL School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health. He has also been named to Best Doctors in America® and Louisville Magazine’s Top Docs. His specialty areas include female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, and his areas of interest include pelvic floor disorders, prolapse, urodynamics, incontinence and interstitial cystitis. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he also completed his internship in internal medicine. He completed his fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, as well as the American Board of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Francis is a member of the American Medical Association; American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Urogynecologic Society; International Urogynecological Association; and Society of Laproendoscopic Surgeons.

All posts by Sean Francis, M.D.