“The real story about pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence is not that embarrassing conditions and symptoms exist; the story is about impact to women’s lives and that after 4000 years on medical record, health concerns remain stuffed in the closet.”
My journey to increase awareness of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) began with my diagnosis in December 2007. Like most women, I'd had never heard of pelvic organ prolapse, and had no idea that:
- One third to one half the female population suffers in silence with POP.
- Childbirth and menopause are the most common POP causes, and aggressive athletic activities, chronic constipation, chronic coughing, genetics, hysterectomy, neuromuscular diseases, and heavy lifting are POP causes as well.
- Women of ALL ages experience POP.
Pelvic organ prolapse is an extremely prevalent women’s health concern that has been on medical record for over 4000 years yet remains shrouded in silence because of embarrassing symptoms. STIGMA*STRIDE is about to change the way we look at women's health.
Hippocratic Succussion Kahun Papyrus POP Treatment Pessary 1867
Stigma of embarrassing symptoms like incontinence, pain with intimacy, and vaginal tissue bulge keeps topics like pelvic organ prolapse shrouded in silence despite thousands of years of medical documentation. Discovery upon diagnosis is the norm with pelvic organ prolapse; women seldom reveal they have the condition to others post diagnosis because of the stigma of symptoms such as incontinence and vaginal tissue bulge. Frequently considered a health condition of mature women, there is significant need to establish recognition that pelvic organ prolapse regularly occurs in women of all ages, races, and nationalities. Childbirth is the leading cause of POP; menopause comes in at a close second. Women should be informed prior to pregnancy of signs and symptoms that may be indicative of POP such as incontinence and vaginal tissue bulge. Incontinence is a symptom of an underlying condition, not a condition that stands alone. APOPS stance is pelvic organ prolapse should be talked about out loud, generating awareness and reducing stigma, similar to what has occurred with breast health awareness via the Komen Pink Ribbon Campaign and erectile dysfunction via the Viagra little blue pill campaign. Pelvic organ prolapse and characteristic symptoms such as incontinence are health concerns, nothing more, nothing less.
“Pelvic organ prolapse is seldom life threatening, but it is always life altering.” ~Sherrie Palm
THE MOST COMMON POP SYMPTOMS
A variety of symptoms can occur in women experiencing pelvic organ prolapse. Because there are five unique types of POP, four levels of severity, and women can experience different combinations of prolapse types, symptoms and their degree of severity will vary from woman to woman. Women are as individual on the inside as they are on the outside, so every woman's journey will be a bit unique. Additionally, symptoms will vary from day to day and from early in the day to late in the day because activity and hormone fluctuation both impact pelvic organ prolapse.
WHO SHOULD JOIN STIGMA*STRIDE?
EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
- Women with pelvic organ prolapse and those who care about them.
- Advocacy providing support and guidance for women's pelvic health.
- Healthcare practitioners treating POP.
- Industry evolving POP tools and treatments.
- Research exploring the POP frontier.
- Academia educating practitioners.
- Media providing exposure.
We must all come together to generate the next big shift in women's health awareness. The time for change is NOW. As we all start talking about POP out loud, women will recognize POP symptoms, healthcare will start routinely screening for POP, education, research, and media exposure will increase, and every sector engaged in the POP arena will evolve.
Women need to know signs and symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, ALL women.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic was a first step to share what I'd learned on my journey, but I recognized something more needed to be done to generate POP awareness and to provide guidance and support for women navigating POP. Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (APOPS), a US based 501(c)(3) nonprofit with international arms, was born in 2010.
POP has been on medical record for over 4000 years and is still not talked about out loud because stigma of embarrassing symptoms has kept it hidden behind closed doors. We must talk about POP out loud and share information until it becomes common knowledge for all women.
WHAT IS STIGMA*STRIDE?
EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
STIGMA*STRIDE will bridge the world with an international Walkathon/Giving Day to break down the shroud of stigma that has kept pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence hidden behind closed doors. APOPS will host the mother walkathon in the Milwaukee, WI. The vision is to springboard walkthons throughout the US and other countries, and a multitude of individual online giving days and other events during June 2015, POP Awareness Month, to generate awareness, inspire dialogue, and capture funding to evolve projects and programs in APOPS pipeline. A detailed project proposal can be downloaded at http://www.pelvicorganprolapsesupport.org/stigmastride2015/.
EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
As we generate awareness and talk out loud about pelvic organ prolapse and embarrassing symptoms such as tissue bulge, pain with intimacy, and incontinence, stigma will soften and women will recognize POP symptoms, enabling them to get early diagnosis and treatment. STIGMA*STRIDE is a significant first step to improve women's pelvic health in the global community.
APOPS vision is:
- Eradicate POP stigma.
- Generate POP dialogue.
- Diminish myths.
APOPS goals and objectives are:
- Generate global POP awareness.
- Provide guidance and support for women with POP.
- Bridge patients/practitioners.
- Establish value of routine POP screening standards.
- Capture accurate POP statistical data.
- WHEN developing zone initiative (Women's Health and Empowerment Network).
- Encourage diagnostic practitioner educational curriculum evolution.
Networking with healthcare, industry, research, academia, advocacy, and most importantly, the women we serve, APOPS builds bridges to advance pelvic organ prolapse awareness and perception.
- POPS Facebook Forum, a secure environment where women can post POP questions and interact with other women navigating pelvic organ prolapse.
- POP tips, research, and insights posted Monday through Friday via APOPS social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
- POP Youtube videos.
- POP Educational articles in APOPS online library.
- POP Basics educational materials.
- Links to POP healthcare practitioner locators.
- Quarterly newsletter.
- In development, APOPS App will assist POP symptom tracking, provide POP insights, and capture quality of life details of value to women, their practitioners, and research.
How Can I Help?
EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
APOPS stance is the only way to reduce stigma is to talk about POP and incontinence out loud and this event is the platform! Add your voice to the cause; join us in Milwaukee or host a STIGMA*STRIDE event in your location; check out our Host a Fundraiser page for ideas. Also consider:
- Sponsor STIGMA*STRIDE.
- Endorse STIGMA*STRIDE.
- Host a STIGMA*STRIDE event.
- Make some noise; use social media to share STIGMA*STRIDE info.
- Post STIGMA*STRIDE on your event page.
- See what others have to say about APOPS energy; submit your comments or logo in a show of support for STIGMA*STRIDE via our contact page or call APOPS at 1-262-642-4338.
Pelvic organ prolapse guidance and support and additional STIGMA*STRIDE info APOPS info is available at:
Sherrie Palm’s book and presentation information is available at:
WHISPERS FROM OUR FOUNDER
September 8, 2010
From the beginning of this journey, I knew I wanted to connect with women on a deeper level about the impact POP has on all of our lives. Those of us who have already been diagnosed and treated for POP understand the distress women who are newly diagnosed are going through. In the beginning it can be frustrating to dissect the information available; is the data we have access to accurate, which information applies to us personally, are treatments or surgery the best path. It takes a bit of time to figure out the right course to take.
My vision for APOPS is simple-women who are a bit further down the path of POP awareness connecting with women who are newly diagnosed. Together we will find the information that will assist our paths. Together we will guide, support, and nurture. Together we will shift the awareness curve by passing the information we gain on to the younger generation.
I have no doubt that with the strength and determination women bring to the table, we will change the mindset of the world at large regarding pelvic organ prolapse from a common female health concern that gets little acknowledgement to a widely recognized condition that is addressed in terms of prevention, early recognition for less aggressive treatment, and maintenance for continuing quality of life. With your help, we can change the world.
My continuing gratitude to you all!
Sherrie Palm, APOPS Founder/Executive Director
“Millions of women worldwide suffer in silence from the physical, emotional, social, and sexual ramifications of POP; awareness of pelvic organ prolapse will only occur when we share what we know with others. As we continue to nurture, guide, and network with women navigating pelvic organ prolapse, POP will soon become common knowledge.” ~Sherrie Palm
STOMP OUT The Stigma of pelvic organ prolapse
EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
About APOPS Founder:
Sherrie Palm is the Founder/Executive Director of APOPS, Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support, author of Pelvic Organ Prolapse:The Silent Epidemic, a speaker and educator on the topic of pelvic organ prolapse, and a grassroots POP health advocate. Sherrie dedicates her time to generating international awareness of pelvic organ prolapse, and developing guidance and support structures for women navigating POP.