Menopause is medically defined at 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period. This marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. Most women experience menopause in their 40s or 50s.
Menopause may be accompanied by several different symptoms. Common symptoms include difficulty sleeping, reduced energy, emotional changes, and hot flashes. In some cases, women going through menopause experience potentially serious health conditions, such as pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse is also called pelvic floor prolapse. It occurs when a pelvic organ drops from its proper position lies on the pelvic floor or pushes against other that are below the dropped organ. The uterus, bladder, vagina, rectum and small bowel may drop.
Pelvic organ prolapse is more common in women who are going through menopause than in other women for two reasons. First, the muscles that normally hold these organs in place are stretched during childbirth. By the time a woman reaches menopause, they may be significantly weakened. Second, estrogen levels drop during menopause, and this can ultimately lead to a pelvic organ dropping. Estrogen is used to produce collagen, which is a protein that strengthens the tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place.
There are a variety of ways to treat pelvic organ prolapse. Cases that don’t pose an immediate health risk may initially be treated by doing pelvic floor exercises, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Sometimes, these actions are enough to help the muscles surrounding the pelvic organs regain their strength.
In severe cases or ones that don’t improve with other treatment, surgery may be necessary. Thanks to advancements in surgical procedures, minimally invasive procedures are often an option if surgery is necessary. These procedures are often not the first choice of treatment, but they have shorter recovery times than traditional surgeries.
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