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SINGAPORE - After ignoring a strange feeling in her belly for 23 years, a 62-year-old woman suddenly found out that her uterus had fallen into her vaginal space, and part of her bladder had fallen outside her body.
Lianhe Wanbao reported that Mok Tai Yan gave birth to three children 24 years ago. After the birth of her last child, she began to feel that something was pressing against her vagina.
However, as the sensation was neither painful or uncomfortable, she ignored it.
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"I was 38-years-old when I gave birth to my third child. I thought I was already old, so it was natural that some parts of my body will sag," she said.
She carried on this way until last year, when she noticed that there was something poking out of her vagina.
Upon examination by a doctor, it was discovered that it was her bladder.
"If I lie down, it (the bladder) will go back in. But if I stand for two or three hours, it will fall back out," she said.
"When I walked around, I could also feel that there was something between my legs," she added.
She also found that her underwear would occasionally be stained with blood. The time taken for her to urinate was also longer.
According to KK Hospital, she had grade three (severe) bladder prolapse and grade two (moderate) uterine prolapse.
Doctors then conducted a hysterectomy for her, which is the surgical removal of the uterus.
They then used a mesh fabric to push the bladder back into her body.
The doctors used a new treatment which cuts down the chances of the bladder once again falling out from 25 per cent to 5 per cent.
Madam Mok has had a good recovery after surgery. "Now I can empty my bladder in one shot," she said.
Singapore women face 50% risk
According to doctors interviewed by the paper, the three main reasons for bladder prolapse is giving birth, menopause, and long term heavy lifting which puts pressure on the stomach.
Associate Professor William Han How Chuan, head and senior consultant at KKH's Urogynaecology Centre, warned that although giving birth is one of the main reasons, going through caesarean does not guarantee that women can avoid this problem.
He said that this is as during pregnancy, the fetal weight can put pressure on the pelvic muscles, putting a load on the muscles.
He encouraged women to do pelvic muscle exercises to avoid the problem.
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include a pressure felt on the vaginal opening, difficult sexual intercourse, lower back pain, bowel and bladder problems and persistent vaginal secretions or bleeding.
Half of Singaporean women face the risk of pelvic organ prolapse. Due to delays in getting treatment, half of these cases usually result in the organ already having fallen out.
Although half of the women here are at risk, only about 10 per cent face the risk of more serious cases.
Dr Han said that half of the women who have sought help are between the ages of 35 to 95 years of age. Those between the ages of 45 to 65 years of age accounted for the majority.
Women may delay medical treatment due to fear of surgery. However, delay in medical treatment means that organs can fall out.
Organs affected include the uterus, bladder, urethra, rectum and vagina. Any organ can prolapse, but the most common is the uterus and bladder.
Through regular cervical screenings, it is possible for early detection of t he problem. Early detection means that the problem can be solved through physical therapy, rather than surgery, he said.