If you can’t talk to your girlfriends, who can you talk to? Your doctor!

177821623Are there things you aren’t telling your doctor? We can’t help you unless you are honest with us. We know that there are health topics that you aren’t comfortable talking about during dinner or even over coffee with your closest friend. But this is exactly why your physician is there—to help and treat you.

For women, problems I take care of are some of the most difficult to discuss. Pelvic floor prolapse (uterine or vaginal prolapse), leaking stool and leaking urine are among the most difficult subjects to bring up with your friends. But, you are not alone. Many other women suffer quietly with the same problems and specially trained physicians can often improve or correct such issues.

Uterine or vaginal prolapse is a common occurrence with several different treatment options. But many women wait to talk to their doctor about their symptoms.

Uterine prolapse happens when the uterus drops down and presses into the vaginal area. Vaginal prolapse occurs when the uterus, bladder, small bowel, rectum, urethra and even the vagina itself begin to fall, losing its support structure.

When it comes to prolapse, many of my patients describe the feeling like they are sitting on a ball. In some cases, patients can see their organs coming from their vagina. Remember, I told you this is something women don’t like talking about, but you should definitely alert your doctor. Other symptoms include vaginal bleeding, constipation, leaking urine, repeated bladder infections, increased discharge, painful intercourse, lower back pain, and a heavy feeling in the pelvis.

How does a doctor diagnosis uterine prolapse? With a pelvic exam. Treatment is only necessary if you are bothered by the symptoms or if there are other medical issues resulting from it, such as recurrent urinary tract infections, not being able to empty your bladder or your urinary tract being backed up resulting in your kidneys becoming enlarged and diseased. You can try to strengthen the pelvic floor with Kegel exercises (contract and relax the muscles that surround the opening of the urethra, vagina and rectum). The medical literature teaches us that such exercises result in significantly better results when performed in the presence of a trained, experienced pelvic floor physical therapist. One non surgical option used to treat prolapse is a pessary (pronounced pess-are-ree). A pessary is a removable device that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs that have fallen.

Surgical treatments are also available. To read part two of this blog post, click here.

Are you interested in talking to a physician about treatment for pelvic floor prolapse? Visit UofL Physicians – Urogynecology (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery) for more information. 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.