Pelvic organ prolapse is the abnormal descent or herniation of the pelvic organs from their normal attachment sites or their normal position in the pelvis. The pelvic structures that may be involved include the uterus (uterine prolapse) or vaginal apex (apical vaginal prolapse), anterior vagina (cystocele), or posterior vagina (rectocele). Many parous women may have some degree of prolapse when examined; however, most prolapses are not clinically bothersome without specific pelvic symptoms, and they may not require an intervention.
In 2005, the number (rate) of admissions for POP surgery was 36,854 (0.87 per 1000 women) in Germany, 36,679 (1.14 per 1000 women) in France, and 28,959 (1.13 per 1000 women) in England. Admissions for POP surgery constituted 10.4%, 16.7% and 16.9% of all admissions for female genital tract therapeutic interventions in Germany, France and England, respectively. At least 20% of hysterectomies were performed for the primary indication of POP. 57.4%, 45.0%, and 40.1% of all admissions for POP surgery included a hysterectomy. The costs to payers were 144,236,557 euro, 83,067,825 euro, and 81,030,907 euro in Germany, France, and England, respectively.
If you do not have any symptoms or if your symptoms are mild, you do not need any special follow-up or treatment beyond having regular checkups. If you have symptoms, prolapse may be treated with or without surgery. Often the first nonsurgical option tried is a pessary. This device is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs. Targeting specific symptoms may be another option. Kegel exercises may be recommended in addition to symptom-related treatment to help strengthen the pelvic floor. Weight loss can decrease pressure in the abdomen and help improve overall health. If your symptoms are severe and disrupt your life, and if nonsurgical treatment options have not helped, you may want to consider surgery.
Research conducted by the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, an initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health, has revealed that the long-term success rates of a surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse are lower than expected. Nearly one-third of women develop anatomic or symptomatic treatment failure within five years of undergoing sacrocolpopexy for pelvic organ prolapse.