hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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July 25, 2013

Many suffer with incontinence, but help is available

Women affected most by stress incontinence

(Continued)

Herniated small bowel happens due to weakening of the upper vaginal supports following a hysterectomy when the front and back walls of the vagina separate, allowing the intestines to push against the vaginal skin.

Prolapsed uterus is caused by the weakening of ligaments at the top of the vagina, which causes the uterus to fall. Depending on the degree of weakness, the uterus can fall into the upper portion of the vagina, lower part of the vagina, the vaginal opening or protrude outside the body.

Vaginal prolapse occurs following removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) which provides support for the top of the vagina. The top of the vagina falls toward the vaginal opening causing the walls of the vagina to weaken. The top of the vagina may eventually protrude out of the body through the vaginal opening.

If you have symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, it’s important to have a conversation with either your primary care doctor or gynecologist. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your doctor may offer suggestions that range from simply monitoring the intake of fluids and using panty liners or pads, to Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, medications, and if necessary, surgery.

Gynecologist Melinda Birdsall, MD, the 2013 winner of the National Richard Ireland Award, is on staff at Merrimack Valley Hospital, and specializes in pelvic reconstructive incontinence surgery.

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