Posts Tagged ‘pelvic organ prolapse’

Femicushion: Conservative Management Of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

July 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  7/1/17

Medical trivia: Did you know that July 1 is the transitional day in which medical students become interns, interns become residents, residents become fellows, and residents and fellows become attending physicians? It is typically a day of mass confusion in the hospital. For this reason, it is always better to be treated in June than July!

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common female condition due to weakened pelvic anatomical support.  It results in one or more of the pelvic organs falling into the vaginal space, and at times, outside of the vaginal opening.  Several of my previous entries have covered the topic of POP and its treatment:

Introduction to POP

More about POP

A pessary is an internal device available in different sizes and shapes that is placed within the vagina to keep the fallen pelvic organ in its proper anatomical position. I reviewed pessaries in a previous blog entry: The basics of pessaries

Today’s entry is on Femicushion, a newly available soft cushion that functions as an external pessary, which offers the advantage of not needing to be positioned deeply within the vagina as is a standard pessary.  This device is ideal for women who cannot or do not want to have surgery for their POP and are not thrilled with the concept of wearing an internal pessary.

femicushion posicionado

The Femicushion is composed of washable, medical-grade silicon and is available in three sizes based upon the anatomy of the vaginal opening.

img116tk3503_1

After the POP is “reduced” (the prolapsed pelvic organ is pushed back into its normal anatomical position), the appropriately sized Femicushion is placed just within the vaginal opening. Its presence prevents the fallen pelvic organ from descending outside the vaginal opening.

IMG_1397

Once in place, it is maintained in proper position with a special pad with Velcro that is attached to adjustable undergarments (all washable):

Femicushion

The Femicushion is designed to be worn during the day and removed at night. It is washed upon removal, to be worn the following day.

The Femicushion causes less complications than an internal pessary, since it is external and is removed and cleaned on a daily basis, reducing the risk for vaginitis and bleeding. Furthermore, it eliminates forgetting to remember the presence of the internal pessary that can give rise to erosions and other serious medical issues.

Dr. Sophia Souto and colleagues performed a pilot study of the Femicushion concluding that it is an effective means of alleviating POP symptoms and improving the quality of life of women suffering with POP.  Dr. Souto was kind enough to send me all of the images used in today’s entry.  For an excellent reference on the topic, see the following article published by Dr. Souto et al: Femicushion: A new pessary generation – pilot study for safety and efficacy.  Pelviperineology 2016: 35: 44-47

The Femicushion device can be purchased online at the Urology Health Store: Use “Urology 10” code for 10% discount and free shipping.

http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com  

 

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So Your Vagina Is Loose: Now What?

June 3, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  6/3/17

After your newborn  has used your vagina as a giant elastic waterslide (and perhaps repeated a few times), you may find that your lady parts are not quite the same.  Obstetrical “trauma” to the nether muscles (genital and pelvic muscles) and stretching of the vaginal opening can lead to permanent changes. Multiple childbirths, large babies, use of forceps for delivery, and age-related changes of the pelvic muscles and connective tissues further compound the issue.  This condition, a.k.a. vaginal laxity, is characterized by the vaginal opening being wider and looser than it should be.

recto copy

Image above of vaginal laxity in patient immediately before vaginal reconstructive surgery: rectocele (blue arrow: rectum pushing up into back wall of vagina), perineal scarring (white arrow: scarring between vagina and anus) and catheter in urethra (red arrow: channel that conducts urine)

Trivia: Leonardo Da Vinci had an interesting take on male and female perspectives: “Woman’s desire is the opposite of that of man.  She wishes the size of the man’s member to be as large as possible, while the man desires the opposite for the woman’s genital parts.”

Vaginal Laxity

Vaginal looseness–sometimes to the point of gaping– is one of the most common physical changes found on pelvic exam following delivery.  This often overlooked, under-reported, under-appreciated, under-treated condition commonly occurs following pregnancy and vaginal delivery.  Not only is it bothersome to the woman dealing with the problem, but it can also lead to body image issues, decreased sexual sensation, less sexual satisfaction (for partner as well) and disturbances in self-esteem.

It is important to distinguish vaginal laxity from pelvic organ prolapse (an internal laxity in which one or more of the pelvic organs –bladder, uterus, rectum–bulge into the vagina and at times beyond the vaginal opening).  The photo above illustrates a woman with both issues.

The vagina of a woman with laxity often cannot properly “accommodate” her partner’s penis, resulting in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it, with the end result being diminished sensation for both partners.  Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation with the clitoral shaft moving rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris.  When the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner vaginal lips, clitoral stimulation is also limited, another factor resulting in less satisfaction in the bedroom.

7 Ways to Know if You Have a Loose Vagina

  1. You cannot keep a tampon in.
  2. During sexual intercourse, your partner’s penis often falls out.
  3. Your vagina fills with water while bathing.
  4. You have vaginal flatulence, passage of air trapped in the vagina.
  5. When examining yourself in the mirror you see the vaginal lips parted and internal tissues exposed (it should be shut like a clam shell).
  6. Sexual intercourse is less satisfying for you and your partner and noticeably different than before childbirth.
  7. You have difficulty experiencing orgasm.

Means of quantitating vaginal laxity and the strength of the pelvic and vaginal muscles that are used by physicians include:

  1. Visual inspection of the vulva, which shows vaginal gaping, exposure of internal tissues and decreased distance from vagina to anus
  2. Pelvic exam while having the patient contract down upon the examiner’s fingers, using the modified Oxford scale of 0-5 (0–very weak pelvic contraction; 5–very strong pelvic contraction)
  3. Manometry, a measurement of resting pressure and pressure rise following a pelvic floor muscle contraction
  4. Dynamometry, a measurement of pelvic muscle resting and contractile forces using strain gauges
  5. Electromyography, recording the electrical potential generated by the depolarization of pelvic floor muscle fibers

On a practical basis, means #1 and #2 are usually more than sufficient to make a diagnosis of vaginal laxity

 Vaginal Laxity:  What to do?

  • Over-the-Counter Herbal Vaginal Tightening Creams: Don’t even bother. These non-regulated products can be harmful and there is no scientific evidence to support their safe and effective use.
  • Kegel Exercises, a.k.a. Pelvic Floor Muscle Training: Worth the bother!  This non-invasive, first-line, self-help form of treatment should be exploited before considering more aggressive means. Increasing the strength, power and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles has the potential for improving vaginal laxity as well as sexual function, urinary and bowel control and pelvic prolapse.
  • Use it or lose it: Stay sexually active to help keep the pelvic and vaginal muscles toned.  Although you might think that sexual intercourse might worsen the problem by further stretching the vagina, in actuality it will help improve the problem and increase vaginal tone.
  • Energy-Based Devices: There are a host of new technologies that are being used for “vaginal rejuvenation” in an office setting. These are typically lasers or units that use targeted radio-frequency energy that are applied to the vaginal tissues. One such device uses mono-polar radio-frequency therapy with surface cooling.  It works by activating fibroblasts (the type of cells that makes fibers involved in our structural framework) to produce new collagen stimulating remodeling of vaginal tissue. The vaginal surface is cooled while heat is delivered to deeper tissues.                                                                                                                                                               Note: The jury is still not out on the effectiveness of these procedures. What is for certain is that they are costly and not covered by medical insurance.  Anecdotally, I have a few patients who claim that they have had significant improvement in vaginal dryness and other symptoms of menopause after undergoing laser treatment.      
  • Vaginoplasty/Levatorplasty/Perineorrhaphy/Perineoplasty: This is medical speak for the surgical reconstructive procedures that are performed to tighten and narrow the vaginal opening and vaginal “barrel.”  The goal is for improved aesthetic appearance, sexual friction, sexual function and self-esteem. These procedures are often performed along with pelvic reconstructive procedures for pelvic organ prolapse, particularly for a rectocele, a condition in which the rectum prolapses into the bottom vaginal wall.

 The term vaginoplasty derives vagina and plasty meaning “repair.”  The term levatorplasty derives from levator (another name for deep pelvic floor muscles) and plasty meaning “repair.” Perineorrhaphy derives from perineum (the tissues between vagina and anus) and –rrhaphy, meaning “suture,” while the term perineoplasty derives from perineum (the tissues between vagina and anus) and plasty meaning “repair.”

Within the perineum are the superficial pelvic floor muscles (bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus and transverse perineal muscles) and deeper pelvic floor muscles (levator ani).  Perineal muscle laxity is a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles become flabby. Weakness in these muscles cause a widened and loosened vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal axis such that the vagina assumes a more upwards orientation as opposed to its normal downwards angulation towards the sacral bones.

3. superficial and deep PFM

Illustration of pelvic floor muscles by artist Ashley Halsey from “The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health

The surgical reconstructive procedures referred to above narrow the relaxed vaginal opening and vaginal barrel and address cosmetic concerns. The aforementioned muscles are buttressed to rebuild the perineum, resulting in a tighter vaginal opening and vaginal barrel, increased distance from vaginal opening to anus, restoration of the proper vaginal angle and an improvement in cosmetic appearance.

public domain

Illustration above from public domain.  On left is lax vagina with incision made from point A to point B where vagina and perineum meet. On right the superficial pelvic muscles are accessed and ultimately buttressed in the midline, converting the initial horizontal incision to one that is closed vertically.

Marietta S pre-PP

Image above of lax vagina before surgical repair; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

.Mariette S 6 wk p.o. PP

Image above of lax vagina after surgical repair; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

Rectoceles And Perineal Laxity: What You Need To Know

May 20, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/20/17

recto copy

Image above: protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina, a.k.a. rectocele (blue arrow); also note catheter in urethra (red arrow) and gaping vagina with scarring of tissues between vagina and anus, a.k.a. perineum (white arrow)

A rectocele is a specific type of pelvic organ prolapse in which the pelvic floor muscles and connective supporting tissue between the lower vaginal wall and rectum weaken, allowing protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina and at times outside the vaginal opening. This not uncommonly follows vaginal childbirth, which places tremendous stresses on the tissues that provide to support of the pelvic organs. Other risk factors for the occurrence of a rectocele are chronic straining, menopause and weight gain.

Rectoceles are also known by the terms “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” and “rectal hernia.” The most common symptom is an annoying vaginal bulge that worsens with assuming the upright position and being active and tends to improve with sitting, lying down and being sedentary. It is often quite noticeable when straining to move one’s bowels. It can give rise to bowel difficulties—most notably what is referred to as “obstructed defecation”—including constipation, incomplete bowel emptying, diarrhea and fecal incontinence. The prolapsed rectum often needs to be manipulated back into position in order to be able to effectively move one’s bowels. Rectoceles can also cause vaginal pressure, vaginal pain and painful sexual intercourse.

Relevant trivia: The word “rectum” derives from the Latin word meaning “straight,” because under normal circumstances the rectum is a straight chute, facilitating bowel movements. The presence of a rectocele causes kinking of the rectum to occur, destroying this anatomical arrangement and making bowel movements difficult without “splinting” the rectum (straightening it out) using one or more fingers placed in the vagina.

Often accompanying a rectocele is laxity of the perineal muscles, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. This causes a widened vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal angle. Women who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina. This may lead to difficulty keeping a tampon in position without it falling out, the vagina filling with water while bathing, vaginal flatulence (the embarrassing passage of air) and sexual issues including difficulty retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse and difficulty achieving orgasm. Perineal laxity may result in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it during sexual intercourse, with the end result diminished pleasurable sensation for both partners. The perception of having a loose vagina and altered anatomy can lead to self-esteem and other psychological issues.

Relevant trivia: Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner vaginal lips, there will be limited clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom.

Management of Rectoceles

Rectoceles can be managed conservatively with pelvic floor exercises, behavioral modifications and consideration for using a pessary. Alternatively, surgical treatment, a.k.a. pelvic reconstruction, is often necessary for more extensive rectoceles or for those that do not respond to conservative measures.

Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate rectocele, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the muscles that play a key role in the support of the rectum and perineum. Weak pelvic muscles can undoubtedly be strengthened; however, if there is connective tissue damage, pelvic training will not remedy the injury, but does serve to strengthen the muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. If not completely cured with PFMT, the rectocele and perineal laxity can still be improved, and that might be sufficient.  Chapter 5 in The Kegel Fix book  (www.TheKegelFix.com) is devoted to a specific PFMT regimen for rectoceles and other forms of pelvic organ prolapse.  Note that if the pelvic floor muscles are torn or widely separated, PFMT will not be productive until surgical repair is performed.

Another component of conservative management is modification of activities that promote the rectocele (heavy lifting and high impact exercises), management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation and consideration for estrogen hormone replacement, since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device that is available in a variety of sizes and shapes and is inserted into the vagina where it acts as a “strut” to help provide pelvic support and keep the rectum in proper position. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Surgery is often necessary in the case of a symptomatic moderate-severe rectocele, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. This type of surgery is most often done vaginally, typically on an outpatient basis. Both the rectocele and the perineal laxity are addressed.  The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal dimensions and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bowel and sexual function.  With improvement of anatomy, function often significantly improves, since function often follows form. Difficulties with evacuation, constipation, straining, incomplete emptying and fecal incontinence should improve, if not resolve. There should no longer be a need to splint the rectum and sexual function (for both patient and partner) should dramatically improve with the rebuilding of the perineum.

Marietta S pre-PP

Pre-operative photo–note gaping vulva, exposed vagina, rectocele and perineal laxity; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Mariette S 6 wk p.o. PP

Post-operative photo–note closed vulva, unexposed vagina and restored perineum after levatorplasty, vaginoplasty, perineorrhaphy and aesthetic perineoplasty; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com  

Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from Dr. Siegel’s The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (Chapter 5. Pelvic Organ Prolapse)

Pessaries To Treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What You Need To Know

April 15, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD    4 /15 /17

A pessary is a vaginal insert that is used to help provide pelvic support in women with vaginal prolapse of the urogenital organs, a.k.a. pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Pessaries are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and when positioned in place within the vagina, function as “struts” to help keep the prolapsing pelvic organ(s) in proper anatomical position. They are ideal for older patients who have medical issues that preclude surgical treatment and for women who opt for non-surgical management.  Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them.  Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

A Few Words on POP

POP is a common condition in which there is weakness of the pelvic muscles and connective tissues that provide pelvic support, allowing one or more of the pelvic organs to move from their normal positions into the potential space of the vaginal canal and, at its most severe degree, outside the vaginal opening. POP is an important issue in women’s health, with an increasing prevalence correlating with extended longevity. Two-thirds of women who have delivered children vaginally have anatomical evidence of POP (although many are not symptomatic) and 10-20% will need to undergo a corrective surgical procedure. The true prevalence of POP is not known because of the large number of women who do not seek medical care for the problem.

POP is not life threatening, but can be a distressing and disruptive problem that negatively impacts quality of life. Despite how common an issue it is, many women are reluctant to seek help because they are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone or have the misconception that there are no treatment options available or fear that surgery will be the only solution.

POP may involve any pelvic organ including the urinary, intestinal and gynecological tracts. The bladder is the organ that is most commonly involved in POP. POP can vary from minimal descent—causing few, if any, symptoms—to major descent—in which one or more of the pelvic organs prolapse outside the vagina at all times, causing significant symptoms. The degree of descent varies with position and activity level, increasing with the upright position and/or exertion and decreasing with lying down and resting, as is the case for any hernia.

POP can give cause a variety of symptoms, depending on which organ is involved and the extent of the prolapse.  The most common complaints are the following: a vaginal bulge or lump, the perception that one’s insides are falling outside, and vaginal “pressure.”  Because POP often causes vaginal looseness in addition to one or more organs falling into the space of the vaginal canal, sexual complaints are common, including painful intercourse, altered sexual feeling and difficulty achieving orgasm as well as less partner satisfaction.

3 Options to Manage POP

  1. Conservative
  2. Pessaries
  3. Surgery (Pelvic Reconstruction) 

Conservative treatment options for POP include pelvic floor muscle training (for details on pelvic muscle training for POP see http://www.TheKegelFix.com), modification of activities that promote the POP (heavy lifting and high impact exercises), management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation and consideration for hormone replacement, since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

Pessary Basics

A pessary is a non-surgical option for treating POP, used with the goal of improving quality of life, body image, and bladder, bowel and sexual function. Pessaries are made of soft and pliable hypoallergenic plastic or silicone and can successfully alleviate symptoms of POP in 85% of those who use them.  About 50% or so of women who trial pessaries continue to use them for the long term, with discontinuation typically occurring in those who cannot retain the pessary, those experiencing discomfort or pain, those who desire surgery, and those who are incapable of inserting and removing them.

It is important to know that pessaries are not successful in all women with POP.  They tend to fail in women with significantly enlarged vaginal openings, in which case the pessary can fall out with effort and exertion. Factors associated with a higher risk for failure are younger age, obesity, and weak pelvic floor muscles.

For Whom is a Pessary Appropriate?

  • Older women who are not candidates for surgery
  • Anyone who desires non-surgical management of their POP
  • For those who need to delay surgery, wish to defer surgery or simply desire to trial one prior to surgery

1-Pessary Image

Image Above: A Potpourri of Pessaries

What Types of Pessaries Are Available?

For Mild-Moderate POP

The ring pessary (7:00 position of image above) is the simplest and most commonly used pessary that has the least side effects.  It is widely employed because of its ease of insertion, good vaginal fit and allowance for sexual intercourse without removing it.  A variation of the ring pessary is one with central support. The oval pessary is a variation of the ring used in narrow vaginas.  The Shaatz pessary (4:00 position of image above) is another variation. The incontinence dish pessary (5:00 position of image above) is used for stress urinary incontinence and mild POP.  A variation of this comes with a central support.

For Moderate-Severe POP

The Gellhorn pessary (3:00 position of image above) is used for greater degrees of POP than the pessaries described in the paragraph above, which are typically used for mild-moderate POP.  It tends to produce the greatest degree of vaginal discharge because of its shape.   The Hodge pessary has wires that can be manually shaped to fit the nuances of one’s anatomy. The Gehrung pessary (10:00 position of image above) also has wires that allow it to be manually shaped.  The donut pessary (center position of image above) is soft allowing it to be compressed for insertion, even with its bulk.  The cube pessary (9:00 position of image above) comes with a tie to help with its removal.

What Are Side Effects Of Pessaries?

The most common side effects are vaginal discharge and vaginitis (vaginal irritation or infection).  Occasionally, vaginal ulcerations can occur because of abrasive contact of the pessary with the delicate lining of the vagina.

How Does One Get Fitted For A Pessary?

A pelvic exam is performed prior to the fitting in order to help determine the proper size and type.  A properly fitted pessary should be large enough to function optimally, but not so large that it causes pressure or discomfort. It should be possible to insert a finger between the pessary’s outer rim and the wall of the vagina.

Usually a ring pessary (size 2, 3, or 4) is initially trialled.  It comes in 9 sizes, ranging from 2.00-4.00 in 0.25 increments.  If unsuccessful, a Gellhorn (size 2, 2.25, 2.5, or 2.75), cube or other model is utilized, depending upon particular circumstances. The largest pessary that is comfortable is placed and the patient is asked to walk and strain to ensure that it remains in proper position.  Motivated patients can be taught how to remove, clean and reinsert it. Typically, removal is done once weekly prior to sleeping, with reinsertion the following morning.  For the less motivated patient, the gynecologist can remove, clean and replace the device every three months or so.

Bottom Line: Pessaries are a non-surgical alternative to help provide pelvic support in women with pelvic organ prolapse.  They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and need to be fitted and sized to the particulars of one’s anatomy.  They fold and compress to facilitate insertion and removal.  They are ideal for older patients who have medical issues that preclude surgical treatment.  If pessaries fail to improve the POP or cannot be retained or are poorly tolerated, a surgical procedure–pelvic reconstruction–can be performed to remedy the problem.  

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com 

DON’T Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles… TRAIN Them

April 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/1/2017

“Exercise” is not the same as “training” and “pelvic floor exercises” (“Kegels”) are not the same as “pelvic floor training.”

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum (1)

Male (left) and female (right) pelvic floor muscles–By OpenStax [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To anybody interested in the nuances of exercise science, “exercising” and “training” are as different as apples and oranges. Don’t get me wrong—they are both healthy and admirable pursuits and doing any form of physical activity is far superior to being sedentary. However, exercise is more of being “in the moment,” a “here and now” physical activity– the short view. On the other hand, training is a well-planned and thought out process pursued towards the achievement of specific long-term goals– the long view. Every workout in a training program can be thought of as an incremental steppingstone in the process of muscle adaptation to achieve improvement or enhancement of function. The ultimate goal of a training program is being able to apply in a practical way the newly fit and toned muscles to daily activities—functional fitness—in order to achieve a better performance (and when it comes to the pelvic floor muscles, an improved quality of life.)

Muscle training is all about adaptation. Our muscles are remarkably adaptable to the stresses and loads placed upon them. Muscle growth will only occur in the presence of progressive overload, which causes compensatory structural and functional changes. That is why exercises get progressively easier in proportion to the effort put into doing them.  As muscles adapt to the stresses placed upon them, a “new normal” level of fitness is achieved. Another term for adaptation is plasticity–our muscles are “plastic,” meaning they are capable of growth or shrinkage depending on the environment to which they are exposed.

One obvious difference between pelvic floor muscles and other skeletal muscles is that the pelvic muscles are internal and hidden, which adds an element of challenge not present when training the visible arm, shoulder and chest muscles. However, the pelvic floor muscles are similar to other skeletal muscles in terms of their response to training. In accordance with the adaptation principle, incrementally increasing contraction intensity and duration, number of repetitions and resistance will build pelvic muscle strength, power and endurance.

The goal for pelvic floor muscle training is for fit pelvic muscles—strong yet flexible and equally capable of powerful contractions as well as full relaxation. The ultimate goal for pelvic floor muscle training—a goal that often goes unmentioned–is the achievement of “functional pelvic fitness.”  Pelvic floor muscle training really is the essence of functional fitness, training that develops pelvic floor muscle strength, power, stamina and the skill set that can be used to improve and/or prevent specific pelvic functional impairments including those of a sexual, urinary, or bowel nature and those that involve weakened pelvic support resulting in pelvic organ prolapse.

With occasional exceptions, most women and men are unable to perform a proper pelvic muscle contraction and have relatively weak pelvic floor strength. In my opinion, pelvic training programs should therefore initially focus on ensuring that the proper muscles are being contracted and on building muscle memory. It is fundamental to learn basic pelvic floor anatomy and function and how to isolate the pelvic muscles by contracting them independently of other muscles. Once this goal is achieved, pelvic training programs can be pursued.

Programs need to be able to address the specific area of pelvic weakness, e.g., if strength is the issue, emphasis on strength training is in order, whereas if stamina is the issue, focus on endurance training is appropriate. Furthermore, programs need to be designed for specific pelvic floor dysfunctions, with “tailored” training routines customized for the particular pelvic health issue at hand, whether it is stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual/orgasm issues, or pelvic pain. Aligning the specific pelvic floor dysfunction with the appropriate training program that focuses on improving the area of weakness and deficit is fundamental since each pelvic floor dysfunction is associated with unique and specific deficits in strength, power and/or endurance.

It is easiest to initially train the pelvic floor muscles in positions that remove gravity from the picture, then advancing to positions that incorporate gravity. It is sensible to begin with the simplest, easiest, briefest pelvic contractions, then advance to the more challenging, longer duration contractions, slowly and gradually increasing exercise intensity and degree of difficulty.

In my opinion, the initial training should not include resistance, which should be reserved for after achieving mastery of the basic training that provides the foundation for pelvic muscle proficiency.

Bottom Line: If you are serious about improving or preventing a pelvic floor dysfunction, you need to do pelvic floor muscle training as opposed to pelvic floor exercises. There are numerous differences including the following:

  • Training is motivated by specific goals and purposes while exercise is done for its own sake or for more general reasons
  • Training requires a level of focus and intensity not demanded by exercise
  • Training requires a plan
  • Training can be a highly effective means of improving and preventing pelvic floor dysfunction

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

The Little Muscles That Could: The Mysterious Muscles You Should Be Exercising

November 5, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 11/5/2016

This entry was a feature article in the Fall 2016 edition of BC The Magazine: Health, Beauty & Fitness.

(A new blog is posted weekly. To receive the blogs via email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com)

3-superficial-and-deep-pfm

Image above: female pelvic floor muscles, illustration by Ashley Halsey from The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health

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Image above: male pelvic floor muscles, illustration by Christine Vecchione from Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

There are over 600 muscles in the human body and they all are there for good reasons. However, some are more critical to health and survival than others. In the class rank it is a no-brainer that the heart muscle is valedictorian, followed by the diaphragm. What may surprise you is that the pelvic floor muscles (a.k.a. Kegel muscles) rank in the top ten of the hierarchy.

The pelvic floor muscles are a muscular hammock that make up the floor of the “core” muscles. They are located in the nether regions and form the bottom of the pelvis. They are among the most versatile muscles in the body, equally essential in both women and men for the support of the pelvic organs, bladder and bowel control and sexual function. Because they are out of sight they are frequently out of mind and often not considered when it comes to exercise and fitness. However, without functional pelvic muscles, our pelvic organs would dangle and we would be diapered and asexual.

Our bodies are comprised of a variety of muscle types: There are the glamour, for show, mirror-appeal, overt, seen and be witnessed muscles that offer no secrets—“what you see is what you get”—the biceps, triceps, pectorals, latissimus, quadriceps, etc. Then there are muscles including the pelvic floor muscles that are shrouded in secrecy, hidden from view, concealed and covert, unseen and behind the scenes, unrecognized and misunderstood, favoring function over form, “go” rather than “show.” Most of us can probably point out our “bi’s” (biceps), “tri’s” (triceps), “quads” (quadriceps), “pecs” (pectorals), etc., but who really knows where their “pelvs” (pelvic floor muscles) are located? For that matter, who even knows what they are and how they contribute to pelvic health?

Strong puritanical cultural roots influence our thoughts and feelings about our nether regions. Consequently, this “saddle” region of our bodies (the part in contact with a bicycle seat)—often fails to attain the respect and attention that other zones of our bodies command. Cloaking increases mystique, and so it is for these pelvic muscles, not only obscured by clothing, but also residing in that most curious of regions–an area concealed from view even when we are unclothed. Furthermore, the mystique is contributed to by the mysterious powers of the pelvic floor muscles, which straddle the gamut of being critical for what may be considered the most pleasurable and refined of human pursuits—sex—but equally integral to what may be considered the basest of human activities—bowel and bladder function.

The deep pelvic floor muscles span from the pubic bone in front to the tailbone in the back, and from pelvic sidewall to pelvic sidewall, between the “sit” bones. The superficial pelvic floor muscles are situated under the surface of the external genitals and anus. The pelvic floor muscles are stabilizers and compressors rather than movers (joint movement and locomotion), the more typical role that skeletal muscles such as these play. Stabilizers support the pelvic organs, keeping them in proper position. Compressors act as sphincters—enveloping the urinary, gynecological and intestinal tracts, opening and closing to provide valve-like control. The superficial pelvic floor muscles act to compress the deep roots of the genitals, trapping blood within these structures and preparing the male and female sexual organs for sexual intercourse; additionally, they contract rhythmically at the time of sexual climax. Although the pelvic floor muscles are not muscles of glamour, they are certainly muscles of “amour”!

Pelvic floor muscle “dysfunction” is a common condition referring to when the pelvic floor muscles are not functioning properly. It affects both women and men and can seriously impact the quality of one’s life. The condition can range from “low tone” to “high tone.” Low tone occurs when the pelvic muscles lack in strength and endurance and is often associated with stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising and other physical activities); pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more of the female pelvic organs falls into the space of the vagina and at times outside the vagina); and altered sexual function, e.g., erectile dysfunction or vaginal looseness.  High tone occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are over-tensioned and unable to relax, giving rise to a pain syndrome known as pelvic floor tension myalgia.

A first-line means of dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction is getting these muscles in tip-top shape. Tapping into and harnessing their energy can help optimize pelvic, sexual and urinary health in both genders. Like other skeletal muscles, the pelvic muscles are capable of making adaptive changes when targeted exercise is applied to them. Pelvic floor training involves gaining facility with both the contracting and the relaxing phases of pelvic muscle function. Their structure and function can be enhanced, resulting in broader, thicker and firmer muscles and the ability to generate a powerful contraction at will—necessary for pelvic wellbeing.

Pelvic floor muscle training can be effective in stabilizing, improving and even preventing issues with pelvic support, sexual function, and urinary and bowel control. Pursuing pelvic floor muscle training before pregnancy will make carrying the pregnancy easier and will facilitate labor and delivery; it will also allow for the effortless resumption of the exercises in the post-partum period in order to re-tone the vagina, as the exercises were learned under ideal circumstances, prior to childbirth. Similarly, engaging in pelvic training before prostate cancer surgery will facilitate the resumption of urinary control and sexual function after surgery. Based upon solid exercise science, pelvic floor muscle training can help maintain pelvic integrity and optimal function well into old age.

Bottom Line: Although concealed from view, the pelvic floor muscles are extremely important muscles that deserve serious respect. These muscles are responsible for powerful and vital functions that can be significantly improved/enhanced when intensified by training. It is never too late to begin pelvic floor muscle training exercises—so start now to optimize your pelvic, sexual, urinary, and bowel health.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Andrew Siegel MD practices in Maywood, NJ. He is dual board-certified in urology and female pelvic medicine/reconstructive surgery and is Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and attending urologist at Hackensack University Medical Center. He is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro area and Top Doctor New Jersey. He is the author ofTHE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (www.TheKegelFix.com) and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health (www.MalePelvicFitness.com). He is co-creator of PelvicRx, an interactive, FDA-registered pelvic floor muscle-training program that empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance, this program helps improve sexual function and urinary function. In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training for women. Visit: http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com to obtain PelvicRx. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount.

Even More About Pelvic Prolapse: Diagnosis & Treatment

October 29, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/29/2016

Note: This is the final entry in a 3-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.

 How is POP diagnosed and evaluated?

The diagnosis of POP can usually be made by listening to the patient’s narrative: The typical complaint is “Doc, I’ve got a bulge coming out of my vagina when I stand up or strain and at times I need to push it back in.”

After listening to the patient’s history of the problem, the next step is a pelvic examination in stirrups.  However, the problem with an exam in this position is that this is NOT the position in which POP typically manifests itself, since POP is a problem that is provoked by standing and exertion. For this reason, the exam must be performed with the patient straining forcefully enough to demonstrate the POP at its fullest extent.

A pelvic examination involves observation, a speculum exam, passage of a small catheter into the bladder and a digital exam. Each region of potential prolapse through the vagina—roof, apex, and floor—must be examined independently.

box

A useful analogy is to think of the vagina as an open box (see above), with the vaginal lips represented by the open flaps of the box.  A cystocele (bladder prolapse) occurs when there is weakness of the roof of the box, a rectocele (rectal prolapse) when there is weakness of the floor of the box, and uterine prolapse or enterocele (intestinal prolapse) when there is weakness of the deep inner wall of the box.

Inspection will determine tissue health and the presence of a vaginal bulge with straining. After menopause, typical changes include thinning of the vaginal skin, redness, irritation, etc. The ridges and folds within the vagina that are typical in younger women tend to disappear after menopause.

Useful analogy: The normal vulva is shut like a closed clam. POP often causes the vaginal lips to gape like an open clam.

Since the vagina has top and bottom walls and since the bulge-like appearance of POP of the bladder or rectum look virtually identical—like a red rubber ball—it is imperative to use a speculum to sort out which organ is prolapsing and determine its extent. A one-bladed speculum is used to pull down the bottom wall of the vagina to observe the top wall for the presence of urethral hypermobility and cystocele, and likewise, to pull up the top wall to inspect for the presence of rectocele and perineal laxity. To examine for uterine prolapse and enterocele, both top and bottom walls must be pulled up and down, respectively, using two single-blade specula. Once the speculum is placed, the patient is asked to strain vigorously and comparisons are made between the extent of POP resting and straining, since prolapse is dynamic and will change with position and activity.

 

exam-relaxed

Image above shows vaginal exam at rest (mild prolapse)

exam-minor-strain

Image above shows vaginal exam with straining (moderate prolapse)

exam-full-streain

Image above shows vaginal exam with more straining (more severe prolapse)

After the patient has emptied her bladder, a small catheter (a narrow hollow tube) is passed into the bladder to determine how much urine remains in the bladder, to submit a urine culture in the event that urinalysis suggests a urinary infection and to determine urethral angulation. With the catheter in place, the angle that the urethra makes with the horizontal is measured. The catheter is typically parallel with the horizontal at rest. The patient is asked to strain and the angulation is again measured, recording the change in urethral angulation that occurs between resting and straining. Urethral angulation with straining (hypermobility) is a sign of loss of urethral support, which often causes stress urinary incontinence (leakage with cough, strain and exercise).

Finally, a digital examination is performed to assess vaginal tone and pelvic muscle strength. A bimanual exam (combined internal and external exam in which the pelvic organs are felt between vaginal and external examining fingers) is done to check for the presence of pelvic masses. On pelvic exam it is usually fairly obvious whether or not a woman has had vaginal deliveries. With exception, the pelvic support and tone of the vagina in a woman who has not delivered vaginally can usually be described as “high and tight,” whereas support in a woman who has had multiple vaginal deliveries is generally “lower and looser.”

Depending upon circumstances, tests to further evaluate POP may be used, including an endoscopic inspection of the lining of the bladder and urethra (cystoscopy), sophisticated functional tests of bladder storage and emptying (urodynamics) and, on occasion, imaging tests (bladder fluoroscopy or pelvic MRI).

cystogram-normal

Image above is x-ray of bladder showing oval-shaped well-supported normal bladder.

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                    Image above is x-ray of bladder showing tennis-racquet shaped bladder,                          which is high-grade cystocele.

How is POP treated?

First off, it is important to know that POP is a common condition and does not always need to be treated, particularly when it is minor and not causing symptoms that affect one’s quality of life.

There are three general options of managing POP: conservative; pessary and surgery (pelvic reconstruction).

Conservative treatment options for POP include pelvic floor muscle training Kegel); modification of activities that promote the POP (heavy lifting and high impact exercises); management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure; weight loss; smoking cessation; and consideration for hormone replacement since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device available in a variety of sizes and shapes that is inserted into the vagina where it acts as “strut” to help provide pelvic support.

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Image above is an assortment of pessaries (Thank you Wikipedia, public domain)

The side effects of a pessary are vaginal infection and discharge, the inability to retain the pessary in proper position and stress urinary incontinence caused by the “unmasking” of the incontinence that occurs when the prolapsed bladder is splinted back into position by the pessary. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Studies comparing the use of pessaries with pelvic floor training in managing women with advanced POP have shown that both can significantly improve symptoms; however, pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to be more effective, specifically for bladder POP.

PFM Training (PFMT)

PFMT is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate POP, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the pelvic muscles that play a key role in the support of the pelvic organs. Weak pelvic muscles can be strengthened; however, if POP is due to connective tissue damage, PFMT will not remedy the injury, but will strengthen the pelvic muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. PFMT is most effective in women with lesser degrees of POP and chances are that if your POP is moderate-severe, PFMT will be less effective. However, if not cured, the POP can still be improved, and that might be sufficient for you.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of PFMT for POP, including improved pelvic muscle strength, pelvic support and a reduction in the severity and symptoms of POP. Improvements in pelvic support via PFMT are most notable with bladder POP as opposed to rectal or uterine POP. PFMT is also capable of preventing POP from developing when applied to a healthy female population without POP.

In symptomatic advanced POP, surgery is often necessary, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. There are a number of considerations that go into the decision-making process regarding the specifics of the surgical procedure (pelvic reconstruction) to improve/cure the problem. These factors include which organ or organs are prolapsed; the extent and severity of the POP; the desire to have children in the future; the desire to be sexually active; age; and, if the POP involves a cystocele, the specific type of cystocele (since there are different approaches depending on the type). Surgery to repair POP can be performed vaginally or abdominally (open, laparoscopic or robotic), and can be done with or without mesh (synthetic netting or other biological materials used to reinforce the repair). The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal length, width and axis and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bladder, bowel and sexual function.

More than 300,000 surgical procedures for repair of POP are performed annually in the United States. An estimated 10-20% of women will undergo an operation for POP over the course of their lifetime.

Dr. Arnold Kegel—the gynecologist responsible for popularizing pelvic floor exercises—believed that surgical procedures for female incontinence and pelvic relaxation are facilitated by pre-operative and post-operative pelvic floor exercises. Like cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac surgery and physical rehabilitation after orthopedic procedures, PFMT after pelvic reconstruction surgery can help minimize recurrences. Pre-operative PFMT—as advocated by Kegel—can sometimes improve pelvic support to an extent such that surgery will not be necessary. At the very least, proficiency of the PFM learned pre-operatively (before surgical incisions are made and pelvic anatomy is altered) will make the process of post-operative rehabilitation that much easier.

Useful resource: Sherrie Palm is an advocate, champion and crusader for women’s pelvic health who has made great strides with respect to POP awareness, guidance and support. She is founder and director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support and author of “Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic.” Visit PelvicOrganProlapseSupport.org.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

More About Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

October 22, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/22/2016

This is the second entry in a three-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.  It is important to understand that the issue in POP is NOT with the pelvic organ per se, but with the support of that organ. POP is not the problem, but the result of the problem. The prolapsed organ is merely an “innocent passenger” in the POP process.

How Much Of A Vaginal Bulge Can POP Cause?

The extent of prolapse can vary from minimal to severe and can vary over the course of a day, depending on position and activity level.  POP is more pronounced with with standing (vs. sitting or lying down) and with physical activities (vs. sedentary).

The simplest system for grading POP severity uses a scale of 1-4:

grade 1 (slight POP); grade 2 (POP to vaginal opening with straining); grade 3 (POP beyond vaginal opening with straining); grade 4 (POP beyond vaginal opening at all times).

Which Organs Does POP Affect?

POP can involve one or more of the pelvic organs including the following: urethra (urethral hypermobility); bladder (cystocele); rectum (rectocele); uterus (uterine prolapse); intestines (enterocele); the vagina itself (vaginal vault prolapse); and the perineum (perineal laxity).

Urethra

The healthy, well-supported urethra has a “backboard” or “hammock” of support tissue that lies beneath it. With a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, the urethra is pushed downwards, but because of the backboard’s presence, the urethra gets pinched closed between the abdominal pressure above and the hammock below, allowing urinary control.

When the support structures of the urethra are weakened, a sudden increase in abdominal pressure (from a cough, sneeze, jump or other physical exertion) will push the urethra down and out of its normal position, a condition known as urethral hypermobility. With no effective “backboard” of support tissue under the urethra, stress urinary incontinence will often occur.

sui

Urethral hyper-mobility causing stress urinary incontinence (the gush of urine) when this patient was asked to cough.

Bladder

Descent of the bladder through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a cystocele, a.k.a. “dropped bladder,” “prolapsed bladder,” or “bladder hernia.”

A cystocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into or even outside the vagina; the need for pushing the cystocele back in in order to urinate; obstructive urinary symptoms (a slow, weak stream that stops and starts and incomplete bladder emptying) due to the prolapsed bladder causing urethral kinking; urinary symptoms (frequent and urgent urinating); and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

untitled

Cystocele

Rectum

Descent of the rectum through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a rectocele, a.k.a. “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” or “rectal hernia.” The rectum protrudes into the floor of the vagina. A rectocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into the vagina, especially noticeable during bowel movements; a kink of the normally straight rectum causing difficulty with bowel movements and the need for vaginal “splinting” (straightening the kink with one’s fingers) to empty the bowels; incomplete emptying of the rectum; fecal incontinence; and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

rectocele

Rectocele with perineal laxity

Perineum

Often accompanying a rectocele is perineal muscle laxity, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. Weakness in these muscles can cause the following anatomical changes: a widened and loose vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal orientation such that the vagina assumes a more upwards orientation as opposed to its normal downwards angulation towards the sacral bones.

Women with vaginal laxity who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina, making intercourse less satisfying for themselves and their partners. This may lead to difficulty achieving orgasm, difficulty retaining tampons, difficulty accommodating and retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, the vagina filling with water while bathing and vaginal flatulence (passing air through the vagina). The perception of having a loose vagina can often lead to low self-esteem.

Small Intestine

The peritoneum is a thin sac that contains the abdominal organs, including the small intestine. Descent of the peritoneal contents through a weakness in the supporting tissues at the innermost part of the vagina (the apex of the vagina) gives rise to an enterocele, a.k.a. “dropped small intestine,” “small intestine prolapse,” or “small intestine hernia.”

An enterocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding through the vagina, intestinal cramping due to small intestine trapped within the enterocele, and vaginal pressure/pain and/or painful intercourse.

enterocele

Enterocele

Uterus

Descent of the uterus and cervix because of weakness of their supporting structures results in uterine prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped uterus,” “prolapsed uterus,” or “uterine hernia.” Normally, the cervix is situated deeply in the vagina. As uterine prolapse progresses, the extent of descent into the vaginal canal will increase.

Uterine POP typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding from the vagina; difficulty urinating; the need to manually push back the uterus in order to urinate; urinary urgency and frequency; urinary incontinence; kidney obstruction because of the descent of the bladder and ureters (tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder) that are dragged down with the uterus, creating a kink of the ureters; vaginal pain with sitting and walking; painful intercourse; and spotting and/or bloody vaginal discharge from the externalized uterus, which becomes subject to trauma and abrasions from being out of position. The most extreme form of uterine POP is uterine “procidentia,” a situation in which the uterus is exteriorized at all times and, because of external exposure, has a tendency for ulceration and bleeding.

 

uterus

Uterine prolapse

ulcerated-procidentia

Severe uterine prolapse (procidentia) with ulcerative inflammation surrounding cervix

Vagina

The most advanced stage of POP occurs when the support structures of the vagina are weakened to such an extent that the vaginal canal itself turns inside out. Vault prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped vaginal vault,” “prolapsed vaginal vault,”or “vaginal vault hernia,” is rarely an isolated event, but often occurs coincident with other forms of POP and most often is a consequence of hysterectomy. If the vagina is likened to an internal “sock,” vaginal vault prolapse is a condition in which the sock is turned inside out. When I explain vaginal vault prolapse to patients, I demonstrate it by turning a front pocket of my pants inside out.

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

What’s That Bulge Coming Out Of My Vagina?

October 15, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD   10/15/2016

untitled

Photo above: typical appearance of  a vaginal bulge (in this case a dropped bladder)

“The thought was delivered just after my newborn’s placenta: A sneaking suspicion that things were not quite the same down there, and they might never be again…my daughter had finished using my vagina as a giant elastic waterslide.”

-Alissa Walker, Gizmodo.com, April 2, 2015

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The bony pelvis provides the infrastructure to support the pelvic organs and to allow childbirth. Adequate “closure” is needed for pelvic organ support, yet sufficient “opening” is necessary to permit vaginal delivery. The female pelvis evolved as a compromise between these two important, but opposing functions.

The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) divide the abdominal and pelvic cavities above from the perineum below, forming an important structural support system that keeps the pelvic organs in place. Many physical activities result in significant increases in abdominal pressure, the force of which is largely exerted downwards towards the pelvic floor, especially when upright. This pelvic floor “loading” puts the PFM at particular risk for damage with the potential for pelvic organ prolapse, a.k.a. pelvic relaxation or pelvic organ hernia.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

POP is a common condition in which there is weakness of the PFM and other connective tissues that provide pelvic support, allowing the pelvic organs to move from their normal positions into the space of the vaginal canal and, at its most severe degree, outside the vaginal opening. It is a situation in which the pelvic organs go wayward, literally “popping” out of place. POP often causes a bulge outside the vaginal opening, appearing like a man’s scrotum…little wonder why most women are disturbed by this condition.

Two-thirds of women who have delivered children have anatomical evidence of POP (although most are not symptomatic) and 10-20% will need to undergo a corrective surgical procedure. POP is not life threatening, but can be a distressing and disruptive problem that negatively impacts quality of life. Despite how common an issue it is, many women are reluctant to seek help because they are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone or have the misconception that there are no treatment options available or fear that surgery will be the only solution.

POP may involve any of the pelvic organs including those of the urinary, intestinal and gynecological tracts. The bladder is the organ that is most commonly involved in POP. POP can vary from minimal descent—causing few, if any, symptoms—to major descent—in which one or more of the pelvic organs prolapse outside the vagina at all times, causing significant symptoms. The degree of descent varies with position and activity level, increasing with the upright position and exertion and decreasing with lying down and resting, as is the case for any hernia.

POP can give rise to a variety of symptoms, depending on which organ is involved and the extent of the prolapse. The most common complaints are the following: a vaginal bulge or lump, the perception that one’s insides are falling outside, and vaginal “pressure.” Because POP often causes vaginal looseness in addition to one or more organs falling into the space of the vaginal canal, sexual complaints are common, including painful intercourse, altered sexual feeling and difficulty achieving orgasm as well as less partner satisfaction.

When one’s bladder or rectum descends into the vaginal space, there can be an obstruction to the passage of urine or stool, respectively. This often requires placing one or more fingers in the vagina to manually push back the prolapsed organ. Doing so will straighten the “kink” in order to facilitate emptying one’s bladder or bowels. Pushing (and holding in place) a prolapsed organ back into position with one’s finger(s) is called “splinting.”

Why Do I Have A Bulge Coming Out Of My Vagina?

POP results from a combination of factors including multiple pregnancies and vaginal deliveries (especially deliveries of large babies), menopause, hysterectomy, aging and weight gain. Additionally, conditions that give rise to chronic increases in abdominal pressure contribute to POP. These include chronic constipation, asthma, bronchitis and emphysema (chronic wheezing and coughing), seasonal allergies (chronic sneezing), high-impact sports, and repetitive heavy lifting, whether work-associated or due to weight training. Other causes are genetic predispositions to POP and connective tissue disorders.

Childbirth is one of the most traumatic events that the female body experiences and vaginal delivery is the single most important factor in the development of POP. Passage of the large human head through the female pelvis causes intense mechanical pressure and tissue trauma (stretching, tearing, compression and crushing) to the PFM and PFM nerve supply. This results in separation or weakness of connective tissue attachments and alterations and damage to the integrity of the pelvis. POP that occurs because of a difficult vaginal delivery may not manifest until decades later. It is unusual for women who have not had children or who have delivered by elective caesarian section to develop significant POP.

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

 

“The Kegel Fix”: A New Twist On An Old Exercise

September 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel  MD  9/24/2016

Cover

I am a urologist with a strong interest in pelvic health, fitness and conditioning. Having first developed a curiosity with in this while in training as a urology resident at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, I became captivated with it at the time of my post-graduate fellowship training at UCLA. Since early adulthood, I have been passionate about the vitality of healthy living (“Our greatest wealth is health”) and I have come to recognize that pelvic health is an important component of a healthy lifestyle.

My philosophy of pelvic medicine embodies the principles that follow:  One of my key roles is as a patient educator in order to enable patients to have the wherewithal to make informed decisions about their health (In fact, the word doctor comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach”). I am a firm believer in trying simple and conservative solutions before complex and aggressive ones. Furthermore, I abide by the concept that if it isn’t broken, there is no purpose trying to fix it, expressed by the statement: “Primum non nocere,” meaning “First do no harm.”  I am an enthusiastic advocate of healthy lifestyle as critical to our wellbeing and enjoy the following quote: “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”

After many years on the urology/gynecology front lines, I have concluded that pelvic health is a neglected area of women’s health, despite pelvic floor problems being incredibly common after childbirth. The notion of pelvic exercise (a.k.a. Kegels) is a vastly unexploited and misunderstood resource, despite great potential benefits to exercising these small muscles that can have such a large impact.  A strong pelvic floor has innumerable advantages, including helping one prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, aging and high impact sports.  I have found that most women have only a very cursory and superficial knowledge of pelvic anatomy and function.  I have also discovered that it is challenging to motivate women to exercise internal muscles that are not visible and are generally used subconsciously, ensure that the proper muscles are being exercised and avoid boredom so that the exercises are not given up prematurely.

Surprisingly, I have found that even health care personnel –those “in the know” including physical therapists, personal trainers and nurses–have difficulty becoming adept at pelvic conditioning. When asked to clench their pelvic muscles, many women squeeze their buttocks, thigh or abdominal muscles, others lift their bottom in the air as one would do the “bridge” maneuver in yoga class, and still others strain down as opposed to pull up and in.

The good news is that following decades of “stagnancy” following the transformative work of Dr. Arnold Kegel in the late 1940s–who was singularly responsible for popularizing pelvic floor exercises in women after childbirth–there has been a resurgence of interest in the pelvic floor and the benefits of pelvic floor training. I am pleased to be able to contribute to this pelvic renaissance with the publication of The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. The book is a modern take on pelvic exercises that I was motivated to write because of my frustration with the existing means of educating women with respect to their pelvic floors and how to properly exercise them to reap the benefits that can accrue.

I thought carefully about the specific pelvic floor problems that Kegel exercises can potentially address—pelvic organ prolapse, sexual issues, stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder/bowel, and pelvic pain due to pelvic muscle tension—and how each of these issues is underpinned by unique pelvic floor deficits not necessarily amenable to the one-size-fits-all approach that has been traditionally used. In The Kegel Fix I introduce home-based, progressive, tailored exercises consisting of strength, power and endurance training regimens—customized for each specific pelvic floor problem. The book is appropriate not only for women suffering with the aforementioned pelvic problems, but also for those who wish to maintain healthy pelvic functioning and prevent future problems.

I have found that most women who are taught Kegel exercises are uncertain about how to put them into practical use. This is by no fault of their own, but because they have not been taught “functional pelvic fitness”–what I call “Kegels-on-demand.” This concept—a major emphasis of the book—is the actionable means of applying pelvic conditioning to daily tasks and real-life common activities. This is the essence of Kegel pelvic floor training—to condition these muscles and to apply them in such a way and at the indicated times so as to improve one’s quality of life—as opposed to static and isolated, out of context exercises.

Bottom Line: Conditioning one’s pelvic muscles and learning how to implement this conditioning is a first-line, non-invasive, safe, natural approach with the potential for empowering women and improving their pelvic health, with benefits from bedroom to the bathroom. Many women participate in exercise programs that include cardio and strength training of the external muscles including the chest, back, abdomen, arms and legs. It is equally important to exercise the pelvic floor muscles, perhaps one of the most vital groups of muscles in the body.

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, which some find advantageous for books about personal and private issues, as well as the fact that it is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, and fonts can be adjusted to one’s comfort level. Furthermore, the e-book has numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew L. Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health, Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com