Examining disability related to pelvic organ prolapse and the perpetuation of discrimination by healthcare attitudes and policies in Alberta

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Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition of female reproductive anatomy where pelvic organs (e.g., bladder, uterus, rectum) can fall from their original positions into, or out of, the vagina. Up to half of people with female reproductive tracts will be affected by POP in their lifetime. POP can result in negative outcomes, including urinary incontinence (leaking urine by accident), fecal incontinence (leaking fecal matter by accident), pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction and is also linked to depression and anxiety. Even though POP is common, it is often seen as shameful. People with prolapse may experience regarding their condition. Furthermore, few people talk or know about POP and POP-­related symptoms or experiences, leading to further isolation.

Traditionally, research on POP has been very focused on the clinical and physical symptoms of POP, but people living with POP have said that the tools used by doctors and health researchers “do not fully reflect what women in my position are truly going through.” Stories from people who experience POP suggest that seeking treatment for POP can be complex and difficult because female reproductive health issues are not always valued or listened to in the healthcare system. There is a need for research that does not focus only on the medical aspects of POP but instead, explores the lived experience of people with POP.
Our study has two goals:
1) To expand the knowledge of how POP results in impairment and disability and to learn more about how POP affects one’s ability to fully engage in their familial and social life; and
2) To explore and document how healthcare as an institution in Alberta contributes to disability and discrimination of those experiencing POP


Either of:

  • Women who have experienced pelvic organ prolapse (diagnosed or not) in the last five years, who are 18 years of age or older, who live in Alberta, and who can communicate in English. 
  • Healthcare professionals who facilitate treatment for pelvic organ prolapse in Alberta (such as doctors, nurses, midwives)