Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ much like your bladder drops from its normal spot within your lower belly and pushes on and against the walls of your vagina. This may occur when the muscles in your pelvic organs are weakened or stretched from childbirth or surgery.
Many women will have some kind of pelvic organ prolapse. It may be uncomfortable and/or painful, but it isn’t usually a big health concern. For some women, it can get better with time.
More than one pelvic organ can prolapse at the same time. Organs that may be involved when you have pelvic prolapse include the:
- Bladder (This is the most common kind of pelvic organ prolapse.)
- Small Bowel
What causes pelvic organ prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is most often linked to childbirth. Normally your pelvic organs are kept in place by the muscles and tissues in your lower belly. During childbirth these muscles can weaken or stretch. If they don’t recover, they can’t support your pelvic organs. You may also get pelvic organ prolapse if you have surgery to remove your uterus also known as a hysterectomy. Removing the uterus can sometimes leave other organs in the pelvis with less support as well. Pelvic organ prolapse can be made worse by anything that puts pressure on your belly, such as:
- Being very overweight (obesity).
- A long-lasting cough.
- Frequent constipation.
- Pelvic organ tumors.
Older women are more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse and it also can run in families.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Feeling pressure against the vaginal wall. (most common)
- Feeling full in your lower belly.
- Feeling as if something is falling out of your vagina.
- Feeling a pull or stretch in your groin.
- Pain in your lower back.
- Releasing urine without meaning to, or needing to urinate more frequently.
- Pain in your vagina during sex.
- Having bowel complications, such as constipation.
How is pelvic organ prolapse diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and about any pregnancies or health problems they will also do a physical exam, which will include a pelvic exam.
How is it treated?
Decisions about your treatment will be based on which pelvic organs have prolapsed and how bad your symptoms are.
If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to do things at home to help yourself feel better. You can relieve many of your symptoms by;
- Adopting new and healthy habits.
- Try special exercises like kegels, which make your pelvic muscles stronger.
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
- Cut back on caffeine this can cause you to urinate more often.
- Avoid lifting heavy things that put stress on your pelvic muscles.