A Look at Pelvic Organ Prolapse
One of those most common pelvic organ ailments effecting postmenopausal and women who have given birth is Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Read on for more information.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman’s pelvic organs weaken, the pelvic organs can drop lower in the pelvis, creating a bulge in the vagina (prolapse). These conditons are most common in postmenopausal women who have given birth but can also occur in younger women and women who have to given birth. The average age women start to notice pelvic floor disorders is 56. It is estimated that at least half the women who have given birth to more than one child have some degree of genital prolapse. However, only 10-20 percent of women who have a genital prolapse actually experience symptoms or discomfort and by 80 that number increases to more than 50% of women.
There are a number of different types of prolapse including:
- Uterine Prolapse – The uterus drops down into the vagina. In severe uterine prolapse, the uterus may protrude from the vagina.
- Bladder Prolapse (Cystocele) – The bladder drops down and creates a bulge into the front wall of the vagina. In severe cases, the bulge can protrude outside the vagina. Bladder prolapse may cause stress urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine while coughing, sneezing, or laughing).
- Rectal Prolapse in the the Vagina (Rectocele) – The rectum drops down and creates a bulge into the back wall of the vagina. In severe cases, the bulge can protrude outside the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse also can occur in women who have had a hysterectomy (an operation to remove the uterus).
- Vaginal Vault Prolapse – The top of the vagina drops down, creating a bulge. In severe cases, the top of the vagina may protrude outside of the vagina.
- Small Intestine Prolapse (Enterocele) – The small intestine can drop downward, creating a bulge into the vaginal vault.
- Urethrocele- A urethrocele occurs when the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body) descends and pushes into the vaginal walls, which then bulge into the vagina. A urethrocele rarely occurs alone; usually it happens when a woman already has a cystocele. The term cystourethrocele is used to refer to the prolapse of both part of the bladder and the urethra.
Keep in mind that often more than one organ can be affected at the same time.
Symptoms of prolapse differ according to the organs involved and the severity of the prolapse. Many women with minor prolapses have no or only minor symptoms. Women who do experience symptoms commonly report feeling:
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area
- A backache low in the back
- Painful intercourse
- A feeling that something is falling out of the vagina
- Urinary problems such as leaking of urine or a chronic urge to urinate
- Spotting or bleeding from the vagina
Your provider may diagnose prolapse during a routine pelvic exam and he or she may order an ultrasound for a better picture of what is going on.
HOW IS PROLAPSE TREATED?
Treatment of pelvic organ prolapse depends on how severe the symptoms are. Treatment can include a variety of therapies, including:
- Behavioral treatments, such as doing Kegel exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Mechanical treatments, such as inserting a small plastic device called a pessary into the vagina to provide support for the drooping organs
- Surgical treatment, either to repair the affected tissue or organ or to remove the organ (such as removal of the uterus by hysterectomy)
If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of prolapse, let us help! Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss what treatment options would be best for you!