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Pelvic Floor Support Procedures

Overview

Pelvic floor support procedures are used to correct or eliminate pelvic floor disorders. Pelvic floor disorders are a group of problems that affect the muscles and tissue located at the opening of a woman’s pelvis. The muscles form a hammock or sling that supports the pelvic organs. When the muscles and connective tissue that makes up the pelvic floor weaken or become injured, it results in a pelvic floor disorder.

Common Disorders & Causes

There are a variety of different pelvic floor disorders. Most of these disorders are caused by pelvic surgery injuries, radiation treatments, pregnancy, or vaginal childbirth. The most common pelvic floor disorder is a pelvic organ prolapse. This occurs when the muscles and tissue are so weak they are no longer able to hold the pelvic organs in place. Vaginal prolapse occurs when the top of the vagina loses support and drops through the vaginal opening. Uterine prolapse causes the uterus to press on the vagina. This can lead to inversion, and in extreme cases, the uterus can come through the vaginal opening. Other prolapse issues can occur with the bladder, the small intestines, or the urethra. These conditions can occur simultaneously, so more than one treatment method might be necessary.

There are a variety of symptoms that might indicate pelvic organ prolapse. These include:

  • Feelings of heaviness in the pelvis
  • Sensation of something falling out of the vagina
  • Pulling or aching in the lower abdomen
  • Bulge in the lower abdomen
  • Inability to completely empty bladder
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Anal incontinence

Treating Pelvic Floor Disorders

In some cases, no treatment is needed for pelvic floor disorders. Sometimes symptoms can be alleviated through means that do no involve a doctor or official medical treatment. For some women, lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and diet changes are enough to reverse the problem. Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegel exercises, can also strengthen the muscles and restore the pelvic floor to normal. Patients might choose secondary medical treatments while lifestyle changes to strengthen the pelvic floor take effect. For instance, if a patient suffers from urinary incontinence as a result of a pelvic floor disorder, she can take medication to treat incontinence, while also making lifestyle changes and using Kegel exercises.

In cases that are more severe, patients might seek medical treatment, such as surgery, medications, or a medical device known as a pessary.

Pelvic Floor Repair Surgery

Pelvic floor repair surgery uses natural tissue or synthetic materials to create a supportive shield for pelvic organs. The patient’s own tissue, donor tissue, or mesh can be used to create a supplemental support system. The surgery can be performed with an incision in the pelvis or through the vagina. The latter option has a faster healing period and causes a patient less pain. Laparoscopic surgery is also available for pelvic floor repair. This is also considered a low-pain, fast-healing method of repair.

Some patients with severe pelvic floor disorders opt for a full hysterectomy. This surgery removes the uterus from the body, eliminating the need to strengthen the pelvic floor. This option can be effective for women who are past menopause, but it creates a number of side effects for women still in their childbearing years. Your doctor will discuss all of your options with you before proceeding with treatment.

Risks

Pelvic surgery is a relatively safe procedure, but as with all surgical procedures, there are risks involved. In general, surgical risks include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and problems with anesthesia. Problems related to pelvic floor surgery include damage to surrounding tissue during the procedure, and infection in the bowel or bladder following surgery. It is important to follow all instructions provided by your doctor following the procedure to reduce the risk of infection.

Recovery time for pelvic floor surgery varies based on the specifics of the procedure. Laparoscopic surgery has a faster healing time than traditional surgery and might take only a week to 10 days. Recovery time after vaginal surgery or a full abdominal surgery could take up to six weeks. Again, it is important to follow your doctor’s instruction during recovery, so as not to cause complications and increase healing time.

Pelvic floor disorders can cause everything from mild discomfort to embarrassment and severe pain. Luckily, there are pelvic floor support procedures available to ease the problem. If you feel discomfort in your pelvis or you believe there might be a problem with prolapse or a weakened pelvic floor, speak to your doctor at Women’s Health Care of Georgia.




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