In this third edition of her debut work, Palm illuminates a “common, cryptic health concern” with an account of her own experience and scientifically sound advice.
The author founded the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, in 2010 to try to combat the social stigma of vaginal problems. When she started having symptoms of POP following her hysterectomy at age 40—including a lack of vaginal muscle strength and difficulty urinating—she’d never heard of the disorder even though an estimated 3.3 million women in the United States currently suffer from it. The condition is life-altering rather than life-threatening and most often a result of childbirth, surgery, menopause, or chronic constipation. Although total prevention may not be possible, Palm details strategies in this book that may help, such as doing pelvic-floor exercises, controlling one’s weight, and assuming good posture while lifting. There are five types of POP, based on which organ is bulging abnormally: the uterus, vagina, bladder, rectum, or small intestine. One in five women, Palm notes, will ultimately require surgical intervention. Helpful chapters describe POP’s symptoms and the process of seeing a doctor for evaluation. Bullet points, clear headings, frequently asked questions, and useful lists—such as suggested questions for a surgeon—ensure that the material is always reader-friendly. Palm’s account of her own gynecological history may strike some as overly detailed, but its lighthearted approach will keep fellow sufferers from taking themselves too seriously. Indeed, the book is consistently upbeat and proactive, with specific, practical advice; for instance, the author recommends making an ice pack out of a diaper and warns that one must “be prepared for a completely black and blue crotch.” She’s also enthusiastic about how her 2009 surgery changed her life. The transcript of a speech that Palm gave to a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel in 2011 seems unnecessary, though, and there are occasional word-choice issues, such as “viable” instead of “variable,” but these don’t mar the work’s overall quality.
A frank, valuable introduction to a little-known medical condition.