Pelvic Prolapse: Secret sufferers have solutions

Debra Melani, Health & Wellness Magazine, January 2014

Its name might sound benign, but for many women suffering pelvic prolapse, it’s embarrassing, frightening and profoundly life-altering. Worst of all, many of these often baby-boomer-aged women become reclusive, not knowing there’s help, HealthONE experts say.

The disorder results when lax pelvic muscles from aging, childbearing, smoking, genetics or excess weight allow the bladder, uterus or rectum to bulge into the vaginal area. It is not often talked about but affects many women, resulting in more than a third of hysterectomies today, says Dr. Stephen Volin, OB/GYN with North Suburban Medical Center.

“Most women just live with it,” Volin says. “They just stay at home (often because of associated incontinence). They can’t exercise. They can’t enjoy their children and grandchildren. Sexual relations become a problem.” Symptoms can include: feelings of pressure, looseness or bulging in the vaginal area; leakage or inability to empty the bladder; lack of sensation and decreased sexual pleasure; and constipation.

“What many women don’t know is that highly-effective, advanced treatments exist today,” says Dr. Michael Glass of Sky Ridge Medical Center (and Advanced Urology). Also, both surgical and nonsurgical solutions are becoming less invasive, Glass says. Volin agrees, using pelvic-floor stimulation as an example. The electrical stimulation to boost strength of the pelvic-floor muscles, reducing or eliminating some prolapse symptoms, can now be done in the privacy of patients’ homes.

Dr. Michael Glass, Urologist
Dr. Michael Glass, Urologist

If surgery is needed, both Volin and Glass specialize in laparoscopic approaches with the da Vinci® robotic system, which dramatically shortens hospital stays, complications and recovery times. One advanced procedure called a sacropoplexy, during which mesh is used to hold the affected organs in their correct position, has a 90-percent success rate at 10- to 15-years post-op, and women report dramatic increases in quality of life, the doctors say.

Did you know?

Dr. Michael Glass, urologist, recently earned Sky Ridge Medical Center an “epicenter” designation for the da Vinci Surgical System. The distinguished honor recognizes Glass as a top da Vinci surgeon in the country and makes Sky Ridge a training ground for surgeons from around the world to learn the use of the robotic system.