Urology HealthGulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 5, Issue 2 - Baptist Health Care - Urology
Ladies, We Need to Talk
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to live a healthy lifestyle, major physical changes through the years can take their toll. Childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy – all of these significant transitions can make a woman vulnerable to uncomfortable, inconvenient and even painful conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
According to Elizabeth Cruit, M.D., a double board certified urologist and urologic surgeon with Baptist Medical Group, approximately 50 percent of women have some degree of POP, with 11 to 15 percent of women undergoing surgical intervention. “POP is a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles weaken, allowing the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum and small bowel) to fall and press against the vaginal walls,” says Dr. Cruit. “This condition can cause a range of symptoms including incontinence, pelvic pressure and low back pain.”
Risk factors for POP include vaginal childbirth, decreased estrogen levels after menopause, loss of support after a hysterectomy, obesity and smoking. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and may include observation when symptoms are minimal, or surgery to repair the supporting tissue. There is also a non-surgical option called a pessary, a removable device that is inserted in the vagina to help hold the organs in their proper place. There are also various lifestyle choices a woman can make to prevent prolapse from occurring in the first place. “Weight loss, smoking cessation, preventing constipation and avoiding heavy lifting can all go a long way toward strengthening the pelvic floor,” says Dr. Cruit. “And, of course, Kegel exercises can be very effective.
M. Elizabeth Cruit, M.D.
Dr. Cruit is the only double board certified female urologist in the Pensacola area. She holds certifications in urology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Ryan Miyamoto, M.D.
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