JOURNAL ARTICLE

Women seeking treatment for advanced pelvic organ prolapse have decreased body image and quality of life

J Eric Jelovsek, Matthew D Barber
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2006, 194 (5): 1455-61
16647928

OBJECTIVE: Women who seek treatment for pelvic organ prolapse strive for an improvement in quality of life. Body image has been shown to be an important component of differences in quality of life. To date, there are no data on body image in patients with advanced pelvic organ prolapse. Our objective was to compare body image and quality of life in women with advanced pelvic organ prolapse with normal controls.

STUDY DESIGN: We used a case-control study design. Cases were defined as subjects who presented to a tertiary urogynecology clinic with advanced pelvic organ prolapse (stage 3 or 4). Controls were defined as subjects who presented to a tertiary care gynecology or women's health clinic for an annual visit with normal pelvic floor support (stage 0 or 1) and without urinary incontinence. All patients completed a valid and reliable body image scale and a generalized (Short Form Health Survey) and condition-specific (Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory-20) quality-of-life scale. Linear and logistic regression analyses were performed to adjust for possible confounding variables.

RESULTS: Forty-seven case and 51 control subjects were enrolled. After controlling for age, race, parity, previous hysterectomy, and medical comorbidities, subjects with advanced pelvic organ prolapse were more likely to feel self-conscious (adjusted odds ratio 4.7; 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 18, P = .02), less likely to feel physically attractive (adjusted odds ratio 11; 95% confidence interval 2.9 to 51, P < .001), less likely to feel feminine (adjusted odds ratio 4.0; 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 15, P = .03), and less likely to feel sexually attractive (adjusted odds ratio 4.6; 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 17, P = .02) than normal controls. The groups were similar in their feeling of dissatisfaction with appearance when dressed, difficulty looking at themselves naked, avoiding people because of appearance, and overall dissatisfaction with their body. Subjects with advanced pelvic organ prolapse suffered significantly lower quality of life on the physical scale of the SF-12 (mean 42; 95% confidence interval 39 to 45 versus mean 50; 95% confidence interval 47 to 53, P < .009). However, no differences between groups were noted on the mental scale of the SF-12 (mean 51; 95% confidence interval 50 to 54 versus mean 50; 95% confidence interval 47 to 52, P = .56). Additionally, subjects with advanced pelvic organ prolapse scored significantly worse on the prolapse, urinary, and colorectal scales and overall summary score of Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory-20 than normal controls (mean summary score 104; 95% confidence interval 90 to 118 versus mean 29; 95% confidence interval 16 to 43, P < .0001), indicating a decrease in condition-specific quality of life. Worsening body image correlated with lower quality of life on both the physical and mental scales of the SF-12 as well as the prolapse, urinary, and colorectal scales and overall summary score of Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory-20 in subjects with advanced pelvic organ prolapse.

CONCLUSION: Women seeking treatment for advanced pelvic organ prolapse have decreased body image and overall quality of life. Body image may be a key determinant for quality of life in patients with advanced prolapse and may be an important outcome measure for treatment evaluation in clinical trials.

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