These last few days I’m not just dealing with “POP” (pelvic organ prolapse, a chronic condition), I seem to be in danger of succumbing to “POPO” – pelvic organ prolapse obsession! Just what I need, another consuming special interest…
Did you know that Albert Kinsey’s 1953 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, doesn’t mention prolapses, urinary incontinence, or painful intercourse, but it does contain a reference to the ancient Roman poet, Catullus (in a footnote to do with “petting” I think)? Or that the eleventh edition of Our Sexuality by Robert Crooks and Karla Baur (2011, a college textbook) doesn’t mention prolapses per se, though it does mention intercourse pain due to torn “ligaments that hold the uterus in the pelvic cavity.” On the bright side, Our Sexuality does include a helpful reference to the necrophiliac formerly known as Jeffrey Dahmer. Another textbook, Human Sexuality, authored by Masters, Johnson, and Kolodny (1995), doesn’t mention anything resembling a prolapse at all, but at least I can find entries for “shingles,” “Buddhism,” and “castration anxiety.” By its inclusion, should I presume castration anxiety is more prevalent than pelvic organ prolapses, which is estimated to affect at least 50% of all cis-gender women (and people of other genders besides)?
Honestly, I don’t know whether to be more amazed at what’s left out of books on human sexuality or by what’s included.
Perhaps I should respond by altering one of Catullus’ poems:
I hate and love. If you were to ask how
I got this way, I’d have no answer;
but since my uterus dropped, I have suffered
–I have felt this torment.
None of the above is particularly helpful to people who suffer from POP. However, writing it made me feel better. Am I frustrated? Hell, yes. Do I have anything remotely helpful to express? Actually, I do. Go to that Pelvic Organ Prolapse page of mine and you’ll see a thing or two.
In the meantime, here’s a bit more of what I’ve gleaned from my foray into “POP culture.”
• Forget the “feet in the stirrups” thing–have your digital pelvic exam standing. Prolapses are more easily detected this way. (This info courtesy of this podcast interview with Sherrie Palm.)
• One of the most successful surgeries to treat POP involves shortening and closing the vagina by sewing it up inside (not by sewing the labia together!). Yep. It’s called colpocleisis and has a 90-95% success rate and is a quicker surgery with a much shorter recovery period. But many doctors won’t offer or approve this surgery even for the women who want it. It’s a shame because for those who have a sexual repertoire beyond P/V intercourse, or who no longer wish to be sexually active with a partner, colpocleisis could be an option.
• It is better to see a urogynecologist than a regular gynecologist for evaluation for this condition.
I’ll leave you now with a painting of Catullus at Lesbia’s. He looks irked. Has he only just now heard of the FDA’s command to manufacturers to stop selling surgical mesh products indicated for the transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse?