Pelvic Organ Prolapse - Topic Overview
What is pelvic organ prolapse?
prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ-such as your bladder-drops (prolapses) from
its normal spot in your lower belly and pushes against the walls of your
vagina. This can happen when the muscles that hold your
pelvic organs in place get weak or stretched from childbirth or surgery.
Many women will have some kind of pelvic organ prolapse. It can
be uncomfortable or painful. But it isn't usually a big health problem. It
doesn't always get worse. And in some women, it can get better with time.
More than one pelvic organ can prolapse at the same time. Organs
that can be involved when you have pelvic prolapse include the:
What causes pelvic organ prolapse?
prolapse is most often linked to strain during childbirth. Normally your pelvic
organs are kept in place by the muscles and tissues in your lower belly. During
childbirth these muscles can get weak or stretched. 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 (hysterectomy).
Removing the uterus can sometimes leave other organs in the pelvis with less
Pelvic organ prolapse can be made worse by anything that
puts pressure on your belly, such as:
Older women are more likely to have pelvic organ
prolapse. It also tends to run in families.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of pelvic organ
- Feeling pressure from pelvic organs pressing against the
vaginal wall. This is the most common symptom.
- Feeling very full in your lower belly.
- Feeling as if something is falling out of your vagina.
- Feeling a pull or stretch in your groin area or pain in your
- Releasing urine without meaning to (incontinence), or needing
to urinate a lot.
- Having pain in your vagina during sex.
- Having problems with your bowels, such as constipation.
How is pelvic organ prolapse diagnosed?
doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and about any pregnancies or
health problems. Your doctor will also do a physical exam, which will include a
How is it treated?
Decisions about your treatment
will be based on which pelvic organs have prolapsed and how bad your symptoms
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, healthy habits. Try special exercises (called
Kegels) that make your pelvic muscles stronger. Reach
and stay at a healthy weight. Cut back on caffeine, which acts as a
diuretic and can cause you to urinate more often.
Avoid lifting heavy things that put stress on your pelvic muscles.