Experiencing pelvic organ prolapse can be challenging — it can interfere with your activities, intrude on your personal life, and be just plain uncomfortable.
Types and Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse (or POP) is a condition in which one or more organs in the pelvis descend due to a loss of support from the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder, uterus, vagina, small bowel, and bowel. They are often described as being shaped like a hammock.
Normally these muscles and surrounding tissues keep the pelvic organs in place. Sometimes they can become too weak or stretched to continue supporting your pelvic organs. Organ shifting that happens because of these weak muscles can result in one or more types of prolapse.
To better understand the different types of prolapses, it is important to understand which organs have shifted as well as in which space of the pelvic floor became weak which results in different types of prolapes.
Front (anterior) Wall Prolapse
- Bulging of the pelvic organ outside of the body is one possible symptom. Another symptom may be some form of urinary incontinence.
Cystocele Prolapse: Occurs when the bladder protrudes into the vagina due to the anterior (front) vaginal wall becoming weak.
Back (Posterior) Wall Prolapse
- A bulging sensation is one possible symptom. Another symptom may be stressful bowel movements, either straining during bowel movements or not feeling like you evacuated all of your bowls. Lastly, you may experience the need to put your finger into your vagina or rectum to help fully empty your bowls.
Rectocele Prolapse: Occurs when the rectum protrudes into the vagina due to the weakening of the supporting tissue.
Enterocele Prolapse: Occurs when the small intestines protrudes into the vagina due to the weakening of the support tissue.
Top of the Vagina
- A bulge or feeling pressure are usually the most commonly found symptom.
Vaginal vault prolapse: Occurs when the top part of the vaginal wall loses support and drops into the vagina.
Uterine prolapse: Occurs when the top part of the vaginal wall loses support and the uterus drops into the vagina.
Potential Causes of Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is common. Over 3 million women in the United States suffer from Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).1
There are certain risk factors however which may increase your likelihood of experiencing prolapse, including:
- Vaginal childbirth
- Chronic cough
- Frequent constipation
- Pelvic organ tumors
Women experiencing prolapse won’t always experience obvious symptoms. As prolapse progresses, the symptoms may become more apparent and painful. If you are experiencing prolapse, you may feel:
- Stress or pressure in the pelvic region
- Vaginal discomfort, pain, pressure or bleeding
- Pulling or aching feeling in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- A bulge distended from the vagina
- Pain or uncomfortable sexual intercourse
- Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may have prolapse and should consult with your doctor. Remember, although these signs and symptoms can alert you to a problem, they are not unique to prolapse, so it is important to consult a doctor for the correct diagnosis.
Find Frequently Asked Questions about pelvic organ prolapse on FemalePelvicSolutions.com.
1) http://www.pelvicorganprolapsesupport.org/pelvic-organ-prolapse-help-and-hope/ Downloaded 10.17.
3) https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-prolapse#1 Downloaded 10.17.