It’s something many women may be hesitant to speak of but the toll of having a baby, strenuous exercise, or a genetic disposition can leave the body unable to uphold pelvic organs.
As many as fifty percent of women who’ve given birth one or more times will have some degree of vaginal prolapse.
“Vaginal prolapse or pelvic prolapse is in essence a hernia of the vaginal wall. Women that have had multiple pregnancies or because of the lack of estrogen, sometimes genetic predisposition, will have weaker tissues and her organs may herniated through the vaginal wall,” says Dr. Rolando Rivera, a urologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
In more severe cases, the condition affects bodily functions and quality of life.
“Some women may have incontinence; some women may just feel a bulge coming out of her vagina that’s uncomfortable. They may have discomfort with sexual activity,” says Dr. Rivera.
Many times it requires surgery, especially when it affects the bladder or rectum. One of the more effective techniques is the sacrocolpopexy, which pulls up the vagina and attaches it to the sacrum.
“That operation has been done for years and years with very good results. The success rate of sacrocolpopexy is over 95 percent,” says Dr. Rivera.
Doctors are now performing a cutting edge alternative that doesn’t require cutting using the daVinci robot.
“We’re able to do the same operation instead of through an open incision through several small little incisions robotically. With the magnification that the robotic surgery allows you, patients do very well. And robotic surgery for prolapse actually survived the FDA issue pertaining to vaginal surgery and meshes,” says Dr. Rivera.
Healing time and recovery is greatly reduced with robotic surgery. Women are back to their normal activities in a matter of days.
Prolapse patients range from their 20s to 80s, but not everyone is a candidate for this procedure.
“I think that the key for this operation is that there has to be significant weakness of the top of the vagina, what we call the apex of the vagina, the vaginal cuff,” says Dr. Rivera.
It’s about giving women the support they need for a painful and embarrassing condition.