As a busy mother of six, Allison has always been on the go. When she had her third child in 2001, she started to experience abdominal pain. Allison’s obstetrician told her that her uterus was beginning to “drop,” and falling out and suggested it be removed.
“I did not want to get my uterus removed,” says Allison. “I decided to keep up my normal activities and just live with the pain.”
After three more kids, her uterus and her bladder were prolapsing (moving) more. The movement of her organs caused frequent urination and abdominal pain. “I could feel things shifting around. It just didn’t feel right,” says Allison.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when a pelvic organ moves from its “normal” place in the body and pushes against the walls of the vagina. The “dropping” or herniation of these organs happens when the connective tissue that holds them in place is weakened or stretched.
“Pelvic organ prolapse is commonly linked to a history of prior vaginal childbirth,” says Jocelyn Craig, M.D., medical director, Center for Women’s Pelvic Health, Long Beach Medical Center. “Many women experience some type of pelvic organ prolapse, but it affects everyone differently. For some women, it can be very uncomfortable. For others, the symptoms develop gradually or are not bothersome at all.”
During a routine Pap smear, Allison consulted her physician about her pain. They immediately referred her to Dr. Craig. “They told me my organs were falling out and I needed to either have my uterus removed or have my organs lifted.”
“When Allison came to see me, she did not want to have her uterus removed,” says Dr. Craig. “We discussed all of her different options and determined that removal was the best option.”
The Center for Women’s Pelvic Health at Long Beach Medical Center offers comprehensive treatment options for women with pelvic conditions, ranging from non-surgical treatments, such as medication, pelvic muscle rehabilitation and intravaginal devices to the latest minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Through traditional surgical methods, Dr. Craig removed Allison’s uterus, repaired her prolapsed bladder and tightened the vaginal wall. The combination of these tactics helped strengthen Allison’s pelvic floor to keep her organs from shifting downward again.
“I finally feel like me again,” says Allison. “I feel so much better.”
Today, Allison is feeling great and moving around without pain. She enjoys camping, surfing and kayaking with her family. When she gets the opportunity, she shares her story with other women.
“I want other women to know that this is normal and other women are going through it,” says Allison. “They don’t have to live with the pain.”