Sexuality Counseling and/or Hypnosis for People with Pelvic Organ Prolapse
As a provider of complementary services which do not take the place of medical or mental health care, I can help Pelvic Organ Prolapse patients with the following:
A few words of explanation:
• Erotic hypnosis can be an alternative or option to vaginal penetration for women who have pelvic pain or who undergo colpocleisis. And affectionate, “romantic” hypnosis can encourage and renew bonding and intimacy;
• Medical hypnosis can ease pre-surgery “jitters” and deliver suggestions to decrease blood at incisions sites, minimize infection, minimize side effects of anesthesia, and promote healing;
• Hypnosis can assist weight loss for those who are asked to lose weight prior to surgery.
As a sexologist, as well as a patient diagnosed with POP, I am learning as much as I can about these conditions and symptoms, and their potential impact on sexual health, response, and enjoyment. Treatment options may also have an impact, for better or worse. I first posted about this topic in 2017: Out of the Body Shame Closet. But I realized that I was not emotionally ready to take on this topic, even for my own health’s sake. So it’s been awhile. But now I’m ready.
Pelvic organ prolapses (POP) are changes in anatomy, often presenting as bulges in or around the entrance to the vagina as the conditions worsen. It’s mostly cis-gender women who suffer from uterine (uterus), cystocele (bladder), and/or rectocele (rectal) prolapses (though people of other genders can also experience organ prolapses). Many POP patients are over the age of fifty, and some are quite elderly. As we all know, women and the elderly often get short shrift, especially when it comes addressing sexual health and enjoyment.
Additional symptoms can include urinary incontinence, difficulty with bowel movements, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), and other kinds of pelvic pain. Surgeries can cause nerve damage and a decrease in sensation and pleasure. POP and its symptoms can affect a person’s body image and confidence, sexual response, sexual comfort and function. Post-surgical effects can also be troublesome (or not). All of the above can have a negative effect on sexual relationships. In some cases, POP cause quality of life to diminish considerably.
Scroll down for a screen capture of an excerpt from a recent study. Notice the prevalence of this condition, estimated in this study to be between 30-70% of “women presenting for routine gynecological care” and about “1 in 12 women” living in the UK. Other studies from other countries also show high incidence. This APOP website page cites some of these studies, and takes the position that 50% of all cis-women over 50 are probably suffering some degree of POP and related symptoms, though this condition affects cis-women of all ages.
Trans, Non-Binary, and Other Folks Suffer From POP Too
I am currently collecting studies about this, as well as information about services and providers who are working with trans and gender diverse folks. Trans women who have a vaginoplasty and trans men who have a hysterectomy are at potential risk for pelvic organ prolapses.
I did come across this video from the Pelvic Guru Academy which offers training pertaining to pelvic health for trans and non-binary folks, for Pelvic floor therapists and those in related fields.
What Human Sexuality Counselors, Sexologists, and Sex Therapists DON’T Know about Pelvic Organ Prolapses
I am sorry to say this, but human sexuality professionals–myself included–have neglected this topic, probably because their (my) own education did not include much if anything about it. I wrote about this in my above mentioned blog post, but I can also make this claim after scouring all my relevant human sexuality books for mentions of anything that could be related to POP, especially its impact on sexuality. Spoiler alert: From Kinsey’s research into Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) to much more recent sex therapy and self-help books, there isn’t much at all, and what’s there is piecemeal. I’ve summed up my findings in this link to my Book Chart #1 (Rev.)
The good news is that there are organizations and spokespeople who are creating greater public education and awareness about pelvic organ prolapses. People in organizations like AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) are talking about this more.
Websites and Resources
Sadly, I am no longer endorsing Sherrie Palm’s website due to the use of an image that I think is detrimental to the message of vaginal health. Hopefully this is only temporary.
• Here is a list of POP Studies (PDF), some pertaining to sexual concerns. Others are more general.
Voices for PFD also has a great collection of factsheets, in average and large print. Here are some examples (average print):
Voices for PFD Vaginal_Pessaries factsheet.
Voices for PFD Pelvic Organ Prolapse POP factsheet.
Voices for PFD Colpocleisis factsheet. Notice however, that the factsheet is not sexually accurate in claiming that the surgery is for women who “are no longer sexually active.”
Voices for PFD Bladder_Training
There are many more.
• My blog, Put Pelvic Organ Prolapse on Your Sexual Wellness Radar, on the American Counseling Association website.
• Sexuality and aging expert, Joan Price, has written an excellent column: A Senior’s Guide to Sex Without Intercourse (Nov. 6, 2016). It is particularly appropriate for those who have undergone colpocleisis surgery to treat POP. She also sells a webinar, Great Sex Without Penetration, for $55 at this page.
• Mesh Down Under – Australian site regarding complications of mesh surgeries for POP.
• This one looks good for general pelvic health.
Example of one study abstract, below: