“My Lady Parts are Falling Out!” – Elena’s Pelvic Prolapse Story
Pelvic organ prolapse is a pelvic floor disorder that can be life-altering for many women unless treated. Many women silently suffer with the symptoms and never seek help. Women often describe the symptoms as heavy pressure and feeling like their insides are falling out.
Elena suffered from prolapse and complained of constant pressure and how it was disrupting her life as a busy wife, grandmother, and teacher. After events that led her to seek treatment, we were fortunate to hear Elena’s story – her struggles living with pelvic organ prolapse, and what led her to seek treatment from a doctor that could finally bring her relief.
The following is an interview with Elena as she shares her symptoms, what led her to the “edge”, as she describes it, her experience with prolapse and recovery, and what she would like to share with other women.
Elena’s Pelvic Prolapse Story
Elena: “My husband and I have been married for over 35 years, he’s an engineer and I am a teacher. Together, we have raised three great children, all without any major hitches. I still work, help take care of my grandchildren, and I love walking in the neighborhood and staying active. Dave and I have always had a terrific marriage; we have been blessed with a deep love for one another. We have been through a lot together, and even though we are getting up there in age, we still desire to be intimate, even at age 60. It is not the same as it used to be, to be honest it feels a little loose and saggy, but Dave does not complain.
I have been experiencing some pressure down there, and even feels like my insides are about to come out if I stand up or walk too much. Something is off, but my general doctor has not ever expressed any concern. I haven’t actually been to my OB/GYN for several years and started thinking I needed to make an appointment.”
What made you ultimately decide to seek treatment from a specialist?
Elena: “Well, I need to tell you about what sent me over the edge and made me look for a urogynecologist. My husband Dave and I are creatures of habit, and Saturday night is our usual time to be intimate. So, one Saturday night as I was getting ready to get in bed, I went to the bathroom first. As I was sitting on the toilet, I happened to look down and saw something protruding out of myself. Not to get too graphic, but it looked like a man’s part sticking out of my lady parts — just a little — but enough to freak me out. Since my husband and I are close, and you know, after 35 years you have been through plenty of stuff together, I hollered out to him for help. He came running, and oh goodness, just picture this scene in your head: My husband in his tighty whities coming to the rescue, putting on his reading glasses, then crouching down on the bathroom floor to look at my private parts as I sat on the toilet. He took a close-up and personal peek at me and was horrified. Talk about a mood killer!”
“My husband in his tighty whities coming to the rescue, putting on his reading glasses, then crouching down on the bathroom floor to look at my private parts as I sat on the toilet. He took a close-up and personal peek at me and was horrified. Talk about a mood killer!”– Elena on discovering her prolapse
My husband said with all seriousness, ‘Elena, I’ll take you to the doctor Monday and get this part stapled back in there for good.’ I chuckled and said I did not think it was quite as simple as using a staple gun to cinch me up, but I agreed that it was time to get this fixed.
So, the next day I searched for the right doctor and that is where I came across Dr. James Haley, a urogynecologist, and read an article about a patient he had helped with almost identical symptoms.”
What did you learn at your initial appointment?
Elena: “Dr. Haley was very professional and explained to me and my husband all that was going on. I had been relying on my general doctor and trusting that he would let me know if something was wrong with me, but he did not. I realized at that point how knowledgeable a urogynecologist was and how I was in exactly the right place. I felt very comfortable with Dr. Haley and grateful that I found him. He explained I had stage 2-3 prolapse and suggested treatment options. He said that along with uterine prolapse, there was a loss of support for other areas within my vagina as well. It was more involved than I imagined – I needed a total hysterectomy, vaginoplasty, and an anterior, posterior, and enterocele repair. Deep down I knew something was wrong with me, I just had been ignoring it, not wanting to face it. I had been suffering with pressure down there that sometimes was causing lots of pain – plus the looseness during sex, all of it was bothersome. That seems silly now, I let it go too long without seeking help.”
Getting Ready for the Procedure
“I went home, talked more with my husband and we worked out a time when it would be most convenient for the surgery. I called his assistant who was sweet and helped me get it scheduled with insurance. It was within a month, and although I was somewhat nervous, I knew I just wanted it over with so I could get back to feeling myself again. I was looking forward to how it would get my husband and I back on track and thinking ahead of my newly restored lady parts was exciting to me. Dave didn’t talk about it much, but he sure was a big supporter of me getting the surgery, so I knew he would be thrilled with my new and improved vagina too!”
Telling Friends and Family
“I started letting some of my friends and family know about my surgery. Most women my age, at least the few that I have talked to about this, seem to accept this as just a normal part of getting older. Some women have noticed this since immediately after having children and have just lived with it for years. I think most just think it is only a problem that needs corrected when you start leaking urine or cannot control your bladder. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize how ridiculous that sounds.
“Why should we suffer with pressure down there or even unsatisfying sex? If there is a way to fix it, I am all for women speaking up and taking charge of their health problems. I am so thankful I did.”Elena on treating pelvic prolapse
Pelvic Prolapse Surgery and Recovery
“The morning of the surgery I was more nervous than I expected, but once I got there, they relaxed me and all was okay. When I woke up, I could not believe it was already over and I barely remember Dr. Haley telling me that he was really pleased with how it went. By the time I left the hospital, I was up walking around.
The surgery was a success and I feel so much better now, so I try not to remember the painful parts! But the surgery was very involved and I did have many things done, so it was quite an ordeal. The first day was fine since I was all foggy from the medicine. The second day I started to hurt, I guess the numbness wore off and it felt very heavy down there for several days. I could walk, but I wouldn’t win any races. Every day after that was better than the prior one, it kept getting better. I followed all the instructions perfectly and my husband and daughter took very good care of me. After a week, I was doing very well and surprised myself at how much I was getting around, even though I was still tired and it took awhile to get back to normal. It seems to be like that with most surgeries.
After two weeks I went back to see Dr. Haley and he thought I was healing really well and said I looked good. He was happy to see me moving around so well. I was so happy myself that I didn’t feel much pressure anymore. It was a big improvement from before I had the surgery. It was still tender and a little sore, but not painful.
“I was so thankful that the full pressure and dropping feeling was gone and it didn’t feel like my parts were going to fall out. It was so much of an improvement, that I think I overlooked any soreness.”Elena 2 weeks after surgery
It took a few weeks before I could do that much, but I enjoyed the pampering, meals from friends, and time to relax. But truthfully, I expected it to hurt more. I think I must have toughened myself up by ignoring that low, hard pressure I always felt. And now it was finally gone. What a relief!
Now I am completely healed, and the surgery was a total success. I can walk in the neighborhood as much as I want, and have no trouble teaching or playing with my grandkids. Oh, and final report from Dave is that all is looking fantastic down there, and he is thrilled with my ‘overhaul’ as he calls it. I feel zero pressure, and I must admit, that sex is much, much, more satisfying now. (I cannot stress that enough!) I didn’t know what I was missing. I have to say getting this done is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am grateful I chose Dr. Haley, and I think getting a good surgeon makes all the difference in the outcome.”
We waited awhile to have sex and it was tender the first few times (maybe it was 9-10 weeks after but I am not 100 percent sure) but it got better and better each time. All is great now in every way and I am so glad I went through with it. Quality of life is important to me and I love being able to still do the things I enjoy.”
My Thoughts for Other Women with Prolapse
“While I know I am not alone in prolapse, or even sexual issues, this is not something most women are comfortable discussing with each other or their doctors, much less their partners. Women need to be more vocal about taking care of themselves, in every way. You should never accept living with being uncomfortable, in pain, and having to alter your lifestyle because of a medical problem. Having intimacy in marriage is very important, even well into your sixties and beyond. Make it a priority and take care of yourself.
Also, if you suffer with similar symptoms, choosing a urogynecologist is very important, especially when there are multiple problems going on. I was very blessed to find Dr. Haley, and it was a bonus that we lived in the same state. I read where he treats women from all around the country and I can see why.
“I needed my pelvic region completely reconstructed, so I am glad I sought out Dr. Haley, a qualified pelvic reconstruction surgeon for my complete overhaul! I am thankful and very willing to tell others. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my experience.”Elena on choosing a urogynecologist
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse and What to do if You Suspect You Have it?
Pelvic organ prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder where the muscles and tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place weaken and drop lower into the pelvis. “Prolapse” refers to the drooping of pelvic organs that include the cervix, uterus, bladder, vagina, small intestines, and rectum. Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can occur when there is increased pressure in the abdomen, most commonly in women who have given birth, but not always. Some women have minor symptoms if any at all. But for many, the symptoms are life-altering and treatment is essential to quality of life.
If you suspect you have prolapse, seek treatment from a qualified urogynecologist who is double board-certified in OB/GYN and Female Pelvic Medicine Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). Call us today at 770.720.7733 or request an appointment online.
James Haley, MD, FPMRS is an award-winning surgeon at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists and the Vaginal Health Center in Canton, Georgia, and has over two decades of experience in treating women with urogynecological conditions.