Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Many women experience problems with their pelvic floor as they age. One such problem occurs when the uterus, vagina, bladder, or rectum slips down — or prolapses. We know this can sound a bit scary, but that’s why we want to inform you of the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is a disorder in which one or more of the pelvic organs drop from their normal position. It happens when the muscles or tissues that support the pelvic organs become damaged or weak.
The most common kinds of prolapse are:
- Dropped Bladder (cystocele)- when the bladder drops in the vagina or outside of it
- Dropped Uterus- when the uterus bulges in the vagina or outside of it. This is associated with prolapse of the small intestine.
- Rectocele- when the rectum bulges into the vagina or outside of it.
Prolapse of the vaginal can also happen after a hysterectomy, but this is rare.
What Causes Prolapse?
There are many causes of pelvic organ prolapse. The most common cause is pregnancy and childbirth, especially vaginal childbirth. Vaginal childbirth stretches the pelvic floor, making it weaker. However, you can still experience prolapse if you have/have had a C-Section, or have never had children.
Other causes include:
- Long-term abdomen pressure, like from chronic coughing, strain in bowel movements, or obesity
- Prior pelvic surgery
- Hormonal changes from menopause
- A family history of prolapse
What are the Symptoms of Prolapse?
Sometimes, a bulge from pelvic organ prolapse can be felt, which may cause discomfort or irritation. Other symptoms include:
- Discomfort during sex
- Pressure or aching in the pelvic area
- Pelvic pressure while standing
- Problems with bowel movements or bladder incontinence
- Discomfort while using tampons
- Pain or discomfort after physical activities or standing for long periods of time
It’s important to note that the symptoms are different for every woman with this disorder. Of course, that means the treatments will also be different for each woman who experiences prolapse and its symptoms.
What Are the Treatment Options for Prolapse?
Treating pelvic organ prolapse depends on several different factors, like your age, symptoms, type of prolapse, and any other health issues. Some of the treatment options include:
- Muscle Therapy: A doctor may give you some ways to exercise your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them. They may also refer you to a physical therapist who can help strengthen those muscles.
- Pessary: This is a device that is inserted into your vagina to support the pelvic muscles. They come in a variety of sizes, and are often the first line of treatment for prolapse.
- Changing your Eating Habits: If you have Rectocele or bowel problems with prolapse, your doctor may give you recommendations for foods that are high in fiber.
- Support Surgery: This surgery uses tissue from your own body or synthetic mesh to support your pelvic floor and repair damage. Support surgery can be done through the vagina or abdomen and is a good option for women who want to continue to be sexually active.
- Colpocleisis: This is another surgical treatment for prolapse. It treats the disorder by closing the vaginal opening. This is an option for women who no longer want to have vaginal intercourse.
Finding the right treatment for you may take some time and discussion. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what both of you feel is the best option.
More Information on Prolapse
At A Woman’s Healing Center we believe that women need to learn about all of their options after a careful examination to determine the type and severity of their prolapse. If you would like to request an appointment to talk about pelvic organ prolapse and treatment, please fill out the form below.