Pelvic prolapse or pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic organs–the uterus, bladder, small intestine, or rectum–fall from the normal positions.These organs can shift or drop within the pelvic cavity. In severe cases, these organs can actually bulge so they appear outside the body.
According to the National Association for Continence, nearly 50 percent of women who have given birth will develop pelvic prolapse, but only 20 percent will progress to symptomology. Despite a significant impact on daily life when symptoms occur, only about half of women affected will seek medical attention.
There are a number of factors that can increase the probability of pelvic prolapse including: vaginal deliveries, a family history of prolapse, menopause, Â and prior pelvic surgery like a hysterectomy.
Over time, after repetitive weakening and stretching, the pelvic floor muscles can no longer hold the bladder, bowel, or uterus in their proper positions.
With more advanced prolapse, some or all of the following may occur:
- Urinary incontinence
- Lower backache
- Pressure against the vaginal wall
- Fullness in the lower part of the stomach
- Bulge in the rectum or vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Problems with bowel movements such as constipation
Diagnosis begins with a thorough look at your medical history and a full physical examination. Following these steps, you will undergo testing to allow for an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis of the condition. For your convenience, initial diagnostic testing is typically performed onsite during your first visit. If more testing is required, our Medical Concierge will work with you to ensure that all appointments fit within your schedule.
If pelvic prolapse evolves and becomes symptomatic, interfering with daily life, then there are two categories of treatment available: surgical or non-surgical. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition.
The most common non-surgical treatment options for pelvic prolapse include, but are not limited to: behavioral changes like losing weight, avoiding heavy lifting, correcting a chronic cough (e.g. smoking cessation), or preventing constipation that can contribute to bowel movement straining. Although not proven, pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) done on a consistent basis may also help treat pelvic prolapse. The most common non-surgical treatment of pelvic prolapse is a pessary, which is a device worn in the vagina to help support the prolapsed organ.A physician or nurse practitioner specially fits the device to the vagina.
If surgery is the best option for treatment of your pelvic prolapse, in most cases, this will be minimally invasive. The goal of surgery is to restore the strength and function of weakened pelvic muscles so that they can support the pelvic organs.
If you or a loved one are suffering from pelvic prolapse, please contact us today to schedule an appointment with a physician.