Non-Surgical Options for Treating Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Regaining Comfort without Surgery

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is one of the most common pelvic floor problems affecting women, where organs like the bladder, uterus, or rectum descend from their normal position in the pelvis. This can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, impacting quality of life. While surgery is a viable option, many women understandably prefer a non-surgical approach. Here, a leading female surgeon and colorectal and prolapse specialist in Melbourne discusses the effective non-surgical options available to manage and improve POP symptoms.

Understanding Pelvic Floor Muscles and Prolapse

The pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles that supports your pelvic organs. When these muscles weaken or become damaged, they can no longer adequately hold the organs in place, leading to prolapse. Factors like childbirth, vaginal delivery, aging, and chronic straining can contribute to this weakening.

Non-Surgical Management Strategies

The good news is that several non-surgical options can effectively manage POP symptoms and improve your comfort. Let’s explore these in detail:

  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT): Often the cornerstone of non-surgical treatment, PFMT involves strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through exercises like Kegels. A pelvic floor therapist can guide you on performing these exercises correctly and tailor a program to address your specific needs. Strong pelvic floor muscles improve support for the organs, alleviating pressure and discomfort.
  • Biofeedback: This technique uses a device that provides real-time feedback on the activity of your pelvic floor muscles. By seeing the results of your efforts on a screen, biofeedback can enhance your ability to isolate and strengthen these muscles, making PFMT even more effective.
  • Vaginal Pessaries: These are silicone or plastic devices inserted into the vagina to support the prolapsed organ. Pessaries come in various shapes and sizes, and a healthcare professional will fit you for the most suitable one. They are removable for cleaning and during intercourse. Pessaries can significantly improve symptoms of pelvic floor problems like bulging, urinary incontinence, and pressure.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Certain lifestyle changes can significantly help manage POP and other pelvic floor problems. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces pressure on the pelvic floor. A high-fibre diet promotes regular bowel movements, avoiding constipation and straining. Quitting smoking improves blood flow, which can benefit pelvic floor health. Limiting heavy lifting protects the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Estrogen Therapy: For women experiencing postmenopausal symptoms, estrogen therapy can strengthen the vaginal tissues and improve their elasticity, offering some support to the pelvic organs.

Benefits of Non-Surgical Management

Non-surgical options offer several advantages:

  • Non-invasive: They avoid the risks associated with surgery like anaesthesia and potential complications.
  • Safe for most women: They are generally safe with minimal side effects.
  • Patient-controlled: You can manage your condition actively through exercises and lifestyle changes.
  • Effective symptom relief: Studies show significant improvement in POP symptoms with consistent use.

Who is a Candidate for Non-Surgical Management?

Non-surgical options are suitable for women with mild to moderate POP who prefer to avoid surgery or are not surgical candidates due to underlying health conditions. Additionally, women who may want to become pregnant in the future can benefit from non-surgical management as it preserves the uterus.

Seeking the Right Care

If you suspect you have POP, it’s crucial to consult a qualified healthcare professional who is. A thorough evaluation, including a pelvic examination and discussion of your symptoms, will help determine the severity of your prolapse and the most suitable treatment plan. Speaking to a female surgeon who is a colorectal and prolapse specialist is one of the best ways to get insight into all your treatment options.

Working Together for Optimal Results

Non-surgical management is most effective when different approaches are combined. A pelvic floor therapist can provide personalised PFMT guidance, while a healthcare professional can recommend the best type of pessary or lifestyle modifications. Consistency with your treatment plan is key to achieving optimal results.

Pelvic organ prolapse can be effectively managed without surgery. With the right combination of pelvic floor muscle training, lifestyle changes, and potentially the use of a pessary, you can regain comfort and improve your quality of life. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Consult a qualified healthcare professional like a colorectal and prolapse specialist to explore effective non-surgical options and develop a personalised treatment plan that empowers you to manage your condition.

Dr. Naseem is a leading colorectal and prolapse specialist and female surgeon in Melbourne, with extensive experience in treating pelvic floor problems, including POP. She is dedicated to providing compassionate and evidence-based care to her patients and specialises in both surgical and non-surgical treatments.