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A surgeon has gone viral with a tweet blaming the patriarchy for the lack of information women are given around the risks of vaginal prolapse after giving birth.
Jocelyn J. Fitzgerald MD, a urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgeon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, took to social media to discuss the condition, most commonly known as pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
The urogenital condition, which is thought to affect 41–50 per cent of women over the age of 40 in the UK, occurs when the group of muscles and tissues that normally support the pelvic organs, called the pelvic floor, becomes weakened and cannot hold the organs in place firmly, according to the NHS.
This can result in one or more of the pelvic organs slipping down from their normal position, bulging into the vagina.
A surgeon has gone viral with a tweet blaming the patriarchy for the lack of information women are given around the risks of vaginal prolapse after giving birth. Stock image
Jocelyn J. Fitzgerald MD, a urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgeon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, took to social media to discuss the condition, most commonly known as pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
Taking to the social media platform, Dr Fitzgerald wrote: ‘To all of the women coming to my office understandably enraged that nobody told them their vaginas could fall out from having babies: I am so sorry that for so long the patriarchy was scared of what you would do with that information.
‘We must always always be on the side of trusting women with the full spectrum of information—good, bad, ugly—and allowing them to make informed choices. Life is messy with a lot of pros and cons to everything. But ignorance is not it.
‘It isn’t hard for patients to grasp the concept that there is no easy, risk-free way to have a baby or to age! But just as we can counsel about risks of cesarean we can educate on outcomes of vaginal delivery without it being rooted in fear. It can simply be educational.
‘There are many, many well cited studies and sources on both the anatomic and symptomatic epidemiology of pelvic organ and vaginal prolapse but here is a good resource.’
The surgeon and assistant professor took to Twitter to discuss the lack of education around pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
She concluded: ‘Long story long, my personal and professional opinion is that choosing to withhold education to women on the common existence of pelvic floor conditions like POP because “they’re going to have babies and age anyway” is paternalistic. Trust women with their bodies always!’
A weakened pelvic floor – which can lead to POP – can be the result of several factors, including pregnancy and childbirth, particularly if the birth was long and difficult, you had multiple babies, or the baby was large.
Other risk factors for a weakened pelvic floor include ageing and the menopause, being overweight, or having a hysterectomy.
In addition, health issues, including ones which cause long term constipation or coughing and straining, can increase your risk of having a weakened pelvic floor, as can having a job which requires lots of heavy lifting.
While POP is not life threatening, it has been found to impact sufferers’ physical, psychological and social well-being, as well as their quality of life.
A number of Twitter users shared their own experience with POP and related conditions like incontinence in response to the surgeon’s tweet
Yet despite the condition affecting a significant number of women, general awareness around the condition and how to treat it remains low.
Speaking about the lack of information around POP, Jocelyn J. Fitzgerald told FEMAIL: ‘Vaginal prolapse is a condition that very few people are aware of, so when it happens, it is both terrifying and isolating. And we don’t talk about it much until after it happens.
‘The point of my tweet is that people “don’t want to scare women before they have babies”—but what are we so afraid of? It’s a health condition. We counsel about a lot of other risks of childbirth and aging.’
Numerous Twitter users agreed with the surgeon that many women’s health conditions are not widely understood by the general public, and can be difficult to discuss with medical professions.
Speaking about POP, one wrote: ‘I gave birth almost 15 years ago and I STILL pee almost every time I sneeze, or cough, or laugh too hard, or get too excited and jump up and down a little. So frequently that my husband replies to a sneeze with “you good?” So he can offer to pause our movie or grab me underwear.’
Another added: ‘I gave birth almost 15 years ago and I STILL pee almost every time I sneeze, or cough, or laugh too hard, or get too excited and jump up and down a little. So frequently that my husband replies to a sneeze with “you good?” So he can offer to pause our movie or grab me underwear.’
And a third wrote: ‘I have vaginal prolapse and I’m still waiting for a visit from a gynaecologist, they just told me it’ll take months. And no idea on what it can actually be done about it (excluding an hysteroctomy).’