Pelvic Organ Prolapse Is More Common Than You Think

What is pelvic organ prolapse (POP)?

When the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments that hold a woman’s pelvic organs in place are weak, those organs can drop. These include the bladder, uterus and rectum. For women, this can cause an uncomfortable bulge in the vagina.

Prolapse can affect different organs:

    • Cystocele is when the bladder drops into the vagina. It is the most common type of prolapse.
    • Rectocele is when the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina.
    • Uterine prolapse is when the uterus drops into the vagina.

    Women are most likely to experience POP. In fact, up to one out of three women are affected.

    What are the symptoms of POP?

    With mild prolapse, there may be no symptoms. With more significant prolapse, women feel an unpleasant pressure from the organ pushing into the vagina.

    POP can also cause:

    • Trouble passing urine. This could include leaking, a constant “got to go” feeling or a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
    • Frequent urinary tract infections
    • Pain or pressure in the pelvis and/or lower back
    • Constipation
    • Trouble passing stool, which can include a feeling of incomplete evacuation of stool.
    • The need to splint, which is “inserting a finger into the vagina to help evacuate stool by pushing on the wall between the vagina and rectum”
    • Pain with sex

    What treatments help?

    Like with other problems that stem from weak pelvic floor muscles, Kegel exercises may help. The trick is to learn how to do Kegels properly. A physical therapist can help teach you how to use and strengthen the right muscles.

    If symptoms are bad, a pessary may be inserted into the vagina. It is a silicone device that can hold pelvic organs in place.

    Surgery is an option when other treatments don’t work. The best type of surgery depends on the type of prolapse, your symptoms and your overall health.

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    UrologyHealth.org  |  FALL 2021  |  UROLOGYHEALTH extra