Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse can occur when the muscles and ligaments that support the uterus, bladder, rectum or other pelvic organs weaken and cause a hernia to develop. When this happens, it causes the fallen pelvic organ to push through the vaginal wall and create a lump or bulge. This condition is commonly described as a “falling” or “dropping” of the pelvic organs.
Specific types of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Cystocele (fallen bladder)
- Rectocele (fallen rectum)
- Enterocele (bulging intestine)
- Uterine prolapse (fallen uterus)
- Vaginal vault prolapse (fallen vagina)
Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is a fairly common condition caused by a weakening of the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic area. The primary causes of pelvic organ prolapse are aging and childbirth, especially if multiple vaginal deliveries have occurred, as these lead to a loss of muscle tone.
Additional causes may include:
- Injury during childbirth
- Vaginal delivery of a baby weighing more than nine pounds
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic straining of the pelvic area or coughing
What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can include:
- A bulge or lump in the pelvic region of the body
- A feeling of weight or pressure in the pelvis
- Frequent bladder infections or incontinence
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back
- Fallen tissue from the opening of the vagina
Diagnosing Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse can be diagnosed by a medical professional through discussing a patient’s symptoms and performing a pelvic examination. The physician may insert a speculum to view the affected area, and will also feel for any existing bulges that indicate the presence of a hernia.
Treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Treatments for pelvic organ prolapse include both surgical and nonsurgical methods, with some patients requiring no treatment at all in mild cases. A doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatments such as specific pelvic exercises (including Kegel exercises) or a vaginal pessary (a device that helps lift the uterus and hold it in place). In more severe cases, a doctor may perform surgery in order to return the pelvic organ to its normal position or remove the uterus entirely (hysterectomy).
The gynecology professionals at Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute diagnose all types of pelvic organ prolapse. Our multidisciplinary teams create highly effective and individualized treatment plans for patients.