Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common problem in women that is caused by a weakness of the ligaments and muscle that normally hold up the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. While it is not usually dangerous, POP can be very uncomfortable and interfere with healthy living. Often, health care providers struggle with how to properly evaluate and counsel patients with POP.
The American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) Guidelines and Statements Committee recently published a Best Practice Statement in the journal Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery entitled "Evaluation and Counseling of Patients With Pelvic Organ Prolapse." The statement was prepared with the assistance of a team that includes Cassandra L. Carberry, MD, MS, a member of the Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and an assistant professor (clinician educator) at Brown University.
According to the statement, "Women with prolapse should have an examination to quantify the loss of anatomic support and should be evaluated for associated bladder, bowel, and prolapse symptoms, as well as associated bother. Treatment options should be tailored to meet the patient's medical health and personal functional goals. In most cases, women should be informed of the range of treatment options including observation as well as nonsurgical and surgical management."
Dr. Carberry has explained that there are several treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse, including specialized physical therapy to help strengthen the pelvic muscles that support the vagina, bladder, and rectum; a pessary to provide support; or surgery to correct the POP.
She said, "It's important for women with pelvic organ prolapse to be properly evaluated and given all their options. Any health care provider taking care of women may encounter patients with pelvic organ prolapse. They should be aware of the necessary evaluation and treatment options, and can work collaboratively with specialists to treat those women who are symptomatic to improve their quality of life."
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