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Pelvic Organ Prolapse Classification

There are many methods of classifying pelvic organ prolapse. No one system is universally agreed upon. But the system approved by the International Continence Society, called the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification system (POPQ), is considered one standard.1 This system uses a fixed point at the entrance to the vagina (the hymen) and measures the distance between the farthest tip of the prolapsed organ and this fixed point. The system also uses defined points inside the vagina to determine what kind of prolapse has occurred.

Your doctor may use one of the many classification systems to determine the level of an organ's prolapse. Identifying the exact level of prolapse helps guide decisions about which treatments are most likely to offer long-term success. The classification-"grade" or "stage"-of a prolapse is determined many different ways. Ask your doctor to explain how he or she classifies pelvic organ prolapse.

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In order to get the most accurate grading during the pelvic exam, the woman should be bearing down or standing when the test is performed, so that the pelvic organ prolapse is at its maximum.


  1. Bump RC, et al. (1996). The standardization of terminology of female pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 175(1): 10-17.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised October 7, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 07, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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