For the past decade, Lorraine Stone of Eatontown has focused her full attention on arts and culture endeavors. In addition to forming her own performance company, she has been acting with another group, performing with a samba band, and volunteering for a historic landmark foundation. Nothing sidetracked her passion for her work—until she began experiencing pain and pressure in her pelvic area a few years ago.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” says Lorraine. “As time went on, it became very uncomfortable, especially when I was acting or dancing.”
Lorraine’s search for relief led her to Martin Michalewski, MD, a board-certified urogynecologist and director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at CentraState.
“Every pelvic organ has a certain position, shape and function,” explains Dr. Michalewski.
“Factors like aging, childbirth, obesity, and hysterectomy can weaken connective tissue holding them in place, and they may prolapse, which is a displacement of the organ from its normal anatomical position. We first need to distinguish which organ is causing the issue, and then we can offer a solution that meets each patient’s expectations and lifestyle.”
A Drop in Position
A thorough pelvic examination and testing revealed that Lorraine had uterine and bladder prolapse. Due to weakened ligaments, Lorraine’s uterus had dropped down into her vagina, pulling the top of her bladder down with it.
As a temporary solution, Dr. Michalewski recommended a pessary—a device inserted into the vagina to lift up the uterus—so that Lorraine could attend a wedding in Jamaica. He also determined after testing that she was a good candidate for a restorative laparoscopic procedure with the da Vinci® robotic surgery system. This minimally invasive approach offers an extraordinary level of visualization and control for surgeons and an expedited recovery with superior outcomes for patients.
Dr. Michalewski performed an outpatient robotic procedure called sacrocolpopexy to move the organs back into place, and a partial hysterectomy to remove the upper portion of the uterus. A partial hysterectomy does not remove the cervix, the bottom part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Removing the cervix can weaken pelvic floor support and result in future prolapse and urinary symptoms, according to Dr. Michalewski.
“About a third of women over age 40 and half of those over 60 experience some sort of pelvic or urinary problems, but it should not be considered a normal part of aging,” says Dr. Michalewski. “We have multiple options to restore pelvic anatomy and quality of life.”
Lorraine returned home the same day as her surgery. No longer feeling any pressure or discomfort, she is back to performing on stage without worries. She’s looking forward to expanding her acting roles and exploring voiceover work.
“I didn’t know about pelvic health issues like these because women don’t usually discuss them,” says Lorraine. “It’s not only OK to talk about ‘down there’—it’s necessary. There’s no need to live life in discomfort.”