Since June is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Awareness Month…Hallmark are you listening….I thought I’d share some #educatedhope to help ladies out who are getting their info from ye ole internet. I am all for more info, but so much of it has ultimately generated more fear vs help and healing. So I am officially declaring it Prolapse Hope Month!
Let’s talk stats. Somehow the number “50% of women” will develop Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) has been floating around the internet. I have been looking at the research and trying to sort out where that number comes from. When I look at the numbers for women that make up the majority of the demographic on social media (new mamas thru mamas with teenagers, 30-49 yo) the numbers are more like 27% for women with symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse according to a 2001 study by Luber et al . Absorb that please, let that number ease your mind young mama! And the number for older women (50-89 yo) is 30% . Absorb that please, let that number ease your mind, wiser/experienced mama!
So where does the 50% come from? I *think* it can be explained with the word symptomatic. In studies that only looked at prevalence of POP based self-reported symptoms the stats are super low 3-6%. However, when a practitioner examination was included the numbers jump to 41-50% ( Barber et al). Included in these higher stats are those with a grade 1 POP, which in many cases is considered a normal finding (particularly in the absence of symptoms). And most women don’t become symptomatic until they are a more significant grade 2 or higher (not always, please note, not always) (Swift et al).
In the rest of the rehab world we are acknowledging that MRI finding of rotator cuff tears, herniated discs, and labral tears don’t always result in symptoms. We may need to extrapolate that understanding to what might be incidental findings of prolapse for some women, something to think about. I wrote a blog on this relationship with our new understanding of Pain Science relates to pelvic health considerations a few years back, check it out here.
Take heart, stay hopeful!
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Luber K, Boero S, and Choe J. The demographics of pelvic floor disorders: Current observations and future projections. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001; 184 ( 7 ): 1496-1503.
Barber M, Maher C. Epidemiology and outcome assessment of pelvic organ prolapse. Int Urogynecol J (2013) 24:1783–1790.
Swift S, Tate S, and Nicholas J. Correlation of symptoms with degree of pelvic organ support in a general population of women:What is pelvic organ prolapse? J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;189 (2): 372-377.