Uterine prolapse and pelvic floor weakness each have a wide range of well-documented physical symptoms, but the mental health aspect of the conditions can be just as debilitating, and perhaps more difficult to treat.
One of the leading symptoms of uterine prolapse is incontinence, which can cause severe anxiety due to the constant demand of being close to a bathroom in case of a sudden need to urinate. Having an accident in public would cause acute embarrassment, and women who have experienced this may become withdrawn and unwilling to go far from home; some may even refuse to leave the house entirely. Older women may simply accept it as a factor in the ageing process and choose not to seek treatment. This is a myth, and would undoubtedly cause their quality of life and mental health to deteriorate drastically.
Younger women suffering from uterine prolapse may be unaware of treatment options and believe that the only cure is a full hysterectomy. While this is an option for some, there are many who don’t want to give up their fertility before they become naturally menopausal. For women hoping to have children, the thought of losing their fertility can cause serious depression. Younger women are also more likely to be focused on building a career, and may be anxious that recovery from a major operation could cause a serious disruption to their line of business.
In these situations, talking to a friend, family member, or GP is always the first step on the road to recovery. It can be difficult to talk about incontinence and uterus problems, but your GP will be able to discuss treatment options and reassure you that you aren’t on your own. This alone can ease anxiety and depression, and it is a huge step towards treating the prolapse itself. It may be that surgery is the best treatment option, but there are surgical options other than a hysterectomy available.
Mr Jonathan Broome at The Pelvic Clinic is a pioneer in sacrohysteropexy, a prolapse surgery which permanently treats the issue, while allowing women to keep their uterus. It is a keyhole procedure, meaning the level of risk is lowered, there is minimal scarring, and recovery time is faster. Women who have undergone the sacrohysteropexy procedure keep their fertility and have gone on to safely carry and deliver children.
Once the sacrohysteropexy is complete, women who have had anxiety and depression caused by their symptoms can continue to suffer with mental health issues. They may need to seek further treatment and counselling, but they can at least focus on recovery with no physical symptoms to burden them.