Is It IBS or POP?

Every year countless women are given a diagnosis of IBS; many of them after inconclusive test results. Despite the fact that half of all women over fifty as well as countless younger women from childbearing age and up suffer from POP (pelvic organ prolapse), tests and exams to accurately diagnose this health issue are seldom recommended. We all want a name to put to the symptoms we are experiencing; we all want clarification that those symptoms are not in our heads. Many of us do our best to utilize the diets, medications, and behavior modifications our physicians recommend, trying to find some relief for the discomfort we have to deal with daily. Pelvic organ prolapse is an extremely common female health condition that has many overlapping symptoms with IBS. The real question is how many women diagnosed with and treated for IBS actually have POP instead?

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Health Care Tunnel Vision

Patient voice plays an integral role in the advancement of clinical practice. I engage in conversations every chance I get regarding pelvic organ prolapse; opportunities to discuss a health topic that has been shrouded in secrecy for thousands of years’ present avenues to encourage disclosure. As an advocate who guides women toward healthcare professionals for both surgical and nonsurgical treatment of POP, I encourage women to disclose symptoms and concerns that are often embarrassing to discuss. I feel strongly that we need to get past the discomfort zone and recognize that at its most basic level, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a health condition that is treatable, not an issue that needs to be hidden away behind closed doors.

The problem with tunnel vision is we lose sight of valuable perceptions outside the tunnel. 

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Media Planet interview with Sherrie Palm for USA Today Women's Health Supplement

Sherrie Palm, the Founder and Executive Director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support opens up about pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a silently pervasive reality facing women. 

Media Planet~Certain health conditions and symptoms of POP are often not shared during doctor visits. Why is this case?
Sherrie Palm~Despite nearly 4000 years on medical record, stigma continues to shroud pelvic organ prolapse in silence. Urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, tissues bulging from the vagina, and painful intercourse are symptoms few women are comfortable speaking about out loud. I feel all pelvic organ prolapse symptoms need to be talked about out loud, to enable women suffering in silence to recognize they are not alone, to increase awareness of POP, and to clarify that treatment is available. 

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Sherrie Palm Interview with InControl Medical: Next Generation for Pelvic Floor Strength

Interviews with Key Opinion Leaders within healthcare and industry provide valuable insights into multiple aspects of the POP dynamic.  As pelvic organ prolapse awareness increases and women recognize symptoms and request screening from their clinicians, the value of treatment variety will magnify. Every woman’s needs are unique; some women want surgery, some prefer non-surgical treatments. APOPS continually explores all treatment options to better inform our following.

A trip to InControl Medical (ICM) was of considerable value to better understand the pelvic floor strengthening devices this forward thinking company provides. I would like to share some information captured during my meeting with Amy Bomberg, VP of Sales Development, a refreshingly outspoken women’s pelvic health advocate.

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Let Me Be Your Voice: STIGMA*STRIDE 2015

We are on the cusp of an incredible journey,  generating a massive shift in women’s health. EVERYONE attending STIGMA*STRIDE on this day is marking their spot in women’s health history.

“Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
Dr. Diaa Rizk, Arabian Gulf University

Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander, APOPS Founder Sherrie Palm, and Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor

Stigma  has shrouded pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in silence for over 4000 years. 40 yrs ago, magazines and newspapers would not print the words breast cancer. We now recognize and freely talk about the 235,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. We created a comfort zone with awareness.  20 years ago, few spoke about erectile dysfunction out loud. Pfizer opened that closet door, and men now comfortably talk about the little blue pill. We created a comfort zone with awareness. During the AIDS silence between 1970 and 1980, this stigmatized, contagious condition spread to 5 continents because no one would talk about it out loud. The fear factor leveled off, because we created a comfort zone with awareness. Unfortunately, despite the fact that pelvic organ prolapse has been on medical record for over 4000 years, few talk about it out loud because symptoms like vaginal tissue bulge, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pain with intimacy are considered embarrassing. That has to change.

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STOMP OUT THE STIGMA OF PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE: EVERY VOICE MATTERS!

 “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.”
~Sherrie Palm

 

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. 
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