Pelvic Floor Disorder vs Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Know the Difference

Pelvic floor disorders (PFD) refer to a broad range of conditions related to the functions of the pelvic organs. One of these conditions is pelvic organ prolapse (POP), in which one or more pelvic organs sag due to weak pelvic muscles. While these disorders may appear identical, it’s important to remember that they have subtle differences that matter greatly when your physician offers treatment options. This article will cover the main differences between pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor disorders.

What is a Pelvic Floor Disorder?

Pelvic floor disorders can develop when the pelvic area muscles or connective tissues are injured or weakened. Some common PFD types are pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence. These disorders are widespread in older women, and if you have PFD, you will exhibit symptoms like:

  • Constipation
  • Pain in your lower back
  • Pelvis muscle spasms
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination due to urinary issues
  • Rectum or pelvic pain
  • Discomfort in the rectum or pelvic area

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when your pelvic floors, such as the ligaments and muscles, become too fragile to support your pelvic organs. Pelvic floor muscles are vital slings that support the rectum, vagina, bladder, and uterus. Any damage or injury to pelvic muscles moves these organs out of position.

Depending on the affected organ and the weak spot in your pelvic floor, you can experience anterior vaginal wall prolapse or posterior vaginal wall prolapse. You may or may not notice symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, but if you do, they can be in the form of:

  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • Spotting from the vagina
  • Urinary issues like a persistent urge to urinate
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Abnormal bowel movements

Differences between Pelvic Floor Disorders and Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic floor disorders occur when pelvic muscles, tissues, or ligaments are weakened or injured. Pelvic organ prolapse is a type of PFD that mainly affects organs such as the vagina, uterus, and rectum.

The two conditions also have different causes. PFD is linked to trauma, childbirth, obesity, nerve damage, and pelvic surgery, whereas POP is related to aging, vaginal childbirth, long-term abdominal cavity pressure, and family background.

Several approaches to treating pelvic floor disorders exist, depending on the individual symptoms. For instance, your doctor may suggest a lifestyle change, physical therapy, medication, or surgery. When it comes to pelvic organ prolapse, you may need surgical or behavioral treatment based on the severity of your symptoms.

Similarities between Pelvic Floor Disorders and Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic floor disorders and pelvic organs do share similarities. For instance, risk factors such as difficulties during childbirth, obesity or overweight, irregular bowel movements, aging, family history, and surgical treatment increase your chances of developing these conditions. Moreover, pelvic organ prolapse is a type of pelvic floor dysfunction that develops when the pelvic muscles or ligaments are weak or injured and cannot hold the rectum or bladder.

Pelvic floor muscles are, therefore, essential since they support the bowel and the uterus. Besides that, they guard against bowel and bladder prolapse and are crucial for sexual function.

Prevention and Management

 Even though many PFD and POP causes are beyond your control, there are preventative measures you may take to reduce your likelihood of developing these conditions. Yoga or other pelvic floor exercises might help you relax and manage your pelvic muscles.

Always strive to keep a healthy body weight because it can strain your pelvic floor muscles. You can prevent PFD and POD by avoiding smoking, which often leads to prolonged coughing, straining your pelvic floor muscles, and putting unnecessary pressure on your abdomen. If you suspect that you may be experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor disorder or pelvic organ prolapse, don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. Our team of medical professionals at the Incontinence Institute is ready to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about our services. Together, we can help you regain control of your pelvic health and improve your quality of life.