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Women's Health

Understanding and treating pelvic organ prolapse

Updated: May 01, 2021

This common problem is often ignored or misunderstood.

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Roughly half of women over age 50 have pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the uterus, bladder, small intestine, or rectum bulges into the vaginal wall or drops down through the vagina. But unlike with other common health conditions, many women don't talk about it — even with their doctors. For some, this may stem from embarrassment, but in other instances, it's because they think it's just something they need to deal with as they age.

"Women will say to me, 'I thought this was normal because I had kids.' But it's not normal. Not everyone who has had a vaginal delivery or is over 65 has urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse," says Dr. Emily Von Bargen, a Harvard Medical School instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology. Pelvic organ prolapse is treatable, and it's not something women have to live with, says Von Bargen.

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