The Toll of Emotional Abuse on Health Recovery: When Pelvic Organ Prolapse Healing Resists Traditional Standards of Care

We are all to some degree products of how we were raised, at times a good thing, at others not so much. The most difficult aspect of navigating emotional abuse, is never knowing when an abuser is going to spew their venom, often leaving behind a life-long reflex that continues to impact daily navigation. The stuff that goes bump in the night. The whispers that occur inside our heads when life events raise ripples. It’s what we choose to do with life’s garbage that separates us into those who are successful sifting the issues that come with life, and those who can’t seem to capture ballast no matter how hard they try.

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60 Minute Mesh expose: One-Sided Noise Generates Fear on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a day we shine a light on the members of society that birth us, raise us, and nurture us. It is a day to cherish moms, giving back for all they have done and do for us daily.

Childbirth is the leading cause of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a condition that impacts the lives millions of women around the world, with estimates indicating up to 50% prevalence. On this special day once a year, we should fill moms’ hearts with joy. The airing of a program like the mesh segment shared by 60 Minutes on Mother’s Day, Gynecological Mesh: The Medical Device that has 100,000 Women Suing, was unfortunate and inappropriate on this special day.

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The Evolution of Women's Pelvic Health: Pelvic Organ Prolapse Diagnostics, Screening, and Treatment

When I was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse in 2007, I was confused, but that quickly turned to anger and frustration.

Like most women, I had never heard of pelvic organ prolapse, a urogynecologist, or a pessary. Next steps for me were doing what everyone else on the planet would do, Googling. And the more information I found, the angrier I got. At that point in time, 3.3 million women in the US were estimated to experience POP. I can’t begin to imagine how unsettling it is for women who are diagnosed today and discover that 50% of women is the current POP prevalence estimate.  

In the years that have passed since the destiny diverting day I stepped into the pelvic organ prolapse advocacy arena, much has shifted. There’s good news and bad on the POP front lines. Despite the difficulties navigating the transvaginal mesh mess that exploded in the United States in 2011, the end result was beneficial. We now have sanctioning of Female Pelvic Medicine Reconstructive Surgeons (FPMRS urogynecologists and urologists), the physician specialty providing pelvic organ prolapse assessment and treatment. The FPMRS system has enhanced protocol to educate physicians regarding the appropriate use of mesh. New devices are continually developed and are now researched and regulated more strictly. Innovative nonsurgical treatments are continually discovered and evolved. Treatment options for women continue to expand and advance.

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The Vagina: Will POP Engender the Next Significant Shift in Women's Empowerment?

How, when, and why did the vagina become so disrespected?

In the wake of the #MeToo and Olympic gymnastics scandals, we must shine a light on the wall of silence surrounding issues associated with the vagina. As a woman who experienced repetitive sexual abuse as a toddler, I have tremendous respect for the brave, incredibly strong women entangled in recent sexual abuse media exposure, for sharing their painful experiences. As a woman who finds it frustrating that we still have a long way to go to capture one of the most significant facets of our internal strength, the vagina, I acknowledge that we have additional mountains to climb. But as a woman who advocates for women navigating pelvic organ prolapse (POP), I recognize we are on the cusp of the next significant shift in women’s empowerment.

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Pelvic Organ Prolapse, The Constipation Club

Many women start off their day juggling childcare, pet care, grocery lists, dinner plans for the evening meal, and a load of laundry, all the while checking text or email messages as they shove a piece of toast down their throats. My mornings are no different; a typical AM starts off being smothered with love by two lab mix dogs who act as though they haven’t seen me in months, so excited to go out to pee that you’d think there was a steak waiting out on the lawn. I focus on getting them out the door (no small task if it’s raining), initially ignoring my own screaming bladder. A quick bathroom run, then I let the dogs in, feed the dogs, snag a caffeine boost, scan email for incoming priorities, address social media, have a 2nd cup of tea, exercise, eat breakfast, shower, try to make some magic happen with my face and hair, and on with my day. Take time to poop, are you kidding me?

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STIGMA Shrouds the BIGGEST SECRET in Women's Health

Health stigma is a prickly burr in my side every single day. The stigma that has blanketed pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in silence despite nearly 4000 years on medical record confuses the tar out of me. We talk about breast health out loud. We talk about erectile dysfunction and penile health out loud. Yet some health concerns, intimate and otherwise, remain stigmatized and make us uncomfortable, sad, vulnerable, affecting our sense of self. Why can’t everyone talk comfortably about pelvic organ prolapse out loud? 

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