Pelvic organ prolapse is a common type of pelvic disorder that may affect many women. Actually, a third of all women experience prolapse or a similar condition at some point in their lifetime. Want to know more about this condition? Proceed to the sections that follow.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
The term prolapse refers to the drooping or descending of organs. Pelvic organ prolapse is, therefore, the prolapse or drooping of any pelvic organs due to the inability of the pelvic floor muscles to provide adequate support. These organs include:
● Small Bowel
Different Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
There are different types of pelvic organ prolapse depending on the organ that descends outside or into the anus or vaginal canal.
● Cystocele is the most common type referring to the bladder’s prolapse into the vagina
● Urethrocele is the prolapse of the urethra
● Uterine Prolapse or the prolapse of the uterus and cervix on the vagina
● Vaginal vault prolapse
● Posterior wall prolapse when the small bowel (enterocele) or the rectum (rectocele) prolapse forward into the vaginal wall
What causes pelvic organ prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse happens due to too much pressure in the abdomen commonly caused or worsened by:
● Pregnancy, labor, and childbirth
● Respiratory problems accompanied by a chronic, prolonged coughing
● Being overweight or obese
● Changes due to menopause such as low estrogen levels and weakened tissues
● Repeated manual work and heavy lifting
● Frequent or chronic constipation
● Pelvic organ tumors and cancers
● Previous pelvic surgery such as hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus
● Genetics and old age in women which lead to weaker connective tissues and increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse
What are the symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse may be present without any noticeable symptoms, but the following symptoms are reported:
● Pressure felt on the vaginal wall due to pelvic organs pushing against it
● A feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
● A feeling that something is falling out of the vagina
● Pain in the lower back
● Pulling or stretching sensation in the groin
● Inability to contain urine or a constant need to urinate
● Painful sexual intercourse
● Bowel problems such as constipation
● Vaginal spotting or bleeding
The symptoms somehow depend on the prolapsed organ. For example, urine leakage may occur when the bladder is prolapsed, or constipation and sexual discomfort due to prolapse of the rectum. Small intestine or uterine prolapse may also cause backache and painful intercourse.
How is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treated?
Treatment methods for pelvic organ prolapse depend on the severity of symptoms. These may include different therapies like:
● Behavioral treatments like kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
● Lifestyle changes such as weight loss programs
● Physical therapy
● Mechanical treatments such as pessary insertion in the vagina for added support
● Surgical treatment to either repair or remove the affected organ
Tips to Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Many risk factors that contribute to pelvic organ prolapse cannot be controlled including:
● Genetics and family history
● A strenuous vaginal delivery
However, the risk of experiencing the symptoms and problems associated with pelvic organ prolapse can be reduced through:
● Daily Kegel exercises for the maintenance of good pelvic muscle strength
● Maintaining a healthy weight
● Avoiding constipation by eating a fiber-rich diet
● Avoiding or not smoking at all which leads to chronic cough and respiratory problems
● Treatment of chronic cough and constipation that apply strain on the pelvic floor
● Strengthening the core muscles and pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a common problem among women. The types and symptoms vary, but effective treatments are available. The best way to reduce or prevent the symptoms is to practice lifestyle changes involving your diet, exercise, and weight.