Life without pelvic organ prolapse treatment can feel like a helpless situation. Baptist Health offers progressive therapies and surgeries provided by expert physicians to those struggling with the condition.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue at the bottom of a woman’s pelvis that forms a sling or hammock to help keep pelvic organs in place. Pelvic prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor becomes weakened and can no longer support the organs, causing them to drop downward. In severe cases, the vagina can turn inside out and even protrude outside the body. Other pelvic organs may also drop outside of the vaginal opening.
Weakened pelvic floor muscles can result from being pregnant, especially if the woman has a vaginal delivery. Muscles can also weaken as a result of pelvic surgery. Older women and those who are overweight or obese also are at increased risk for pelvic prolapse.
Types of of Pelvic Prolapse
Our specialists offer treatment for the five main types of pelvic prolapse, which include:
- Uterine prolapse – the uterus drops into the vagina.
- Vaginal vault prolapse – the top of the vagina drops down inside the lower part.
- Cystocele – the bladder drops into the vagina.
- Enterocele – the small intestine pushes against the back wall of the vagina. Enterocele often happens along with vaginal vault prolapse.
- Rectocele – the rectum bulges into or out of the vagina.
Severe pelvic prolapse may cause easily identified symptoms, such as organs bulging out of the vagina. Women with pelvic organ prolapse may also have these less obvious symptoms:
- A feeling of pressure in the pelvic area which may be worse with lifting or coughing
- An aching or pulling feeling in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- Lower back pain
- A bulge inside the vagina or difficulty inserting tampons
- Difficulty having a bowel movement
- Urinary incontinence (leaking urine)
Many women with pelvic prolapse don’t have symptoms and don’t require treatment. In other cases, lifestyle changes – such as losing weight or eating more fiber to avoid constipation and the need to strain during a bowel movement – can help relieve symptoms.
Additional treatments for pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Taking medication such as laxatives or stool softeners
- Using a device called a pessary, which is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs. A pessary must be fitted by a doctor and can be worn for many days to weeks at a time
- Bladder training, or emptying the bladder at scheduled times to help with incontinence
- Surgery – There are several procedures that aim to restore the normal anatomy of the pelvic organs. For example, the weakened area may be sutured to nearby healthy tissue to strengthen it, or a graft made of synthetic mesh may also be used to hold up the prolapsed organs. Many women do well after surgery for pelvic floor prolapse. However, prolapse can recur after surgery. Some women who have mesh grafts have serious side effects, such as major bleeding or perforation of the mesh into the bladder or bowel.
If you are interested in exploring your treatment options to help you cope with pelvic organ prolapse, our urogynecology specialists will create an individualized treatment plan to help you overcome your symptoms and recover.