Pelvic prolapse is the third most common pelvic floor disorder. Prolapse occurs when the pelvic muscles and other supporting tissues becomes weak, which causes the organs within the pelvis to fall out of their normal anatomical positions.
Prolapse can be caused by childbirth or certain types of surgery. Women who have given birth are more likely to experience a prolapse. In addition, it’s possible to have more than one organ prolapse at the same time.
Bladder Prolapse (Cystocele) occurs when the upper wall of the vagina loses support and the bladder drops out of position and into the vagina.
Typical symptoms associated with bladder prolapse:
Vaginal Prolapse (Vaginal Vault Prolapse) and Prolapsed Uterus (Uterine Prolapse) occurs when the upper portion of the vagina loses its normal shape and sags or drops down into the vaginal canal or extends outside of the vagina. The main cause of vaginal prolapse is weakness in the vaginal and pelvic muscles. Conditions that contribute to developing vaginal prolapse are:
Typical symptoms associated with vaginal prolapse:
Rectal/Anal Prolapse (Rectocele) occurs when part or all of the rectum wall slides out of place, sometimes sticking out of the anus. The main causes for rectal or anal prolapse are:
Typical symptoms associated with rectal prolapse are:
Small Bowel Prolapse (Enterocele) occurs when the small bowel presses against and moves the upper wall of the vagina. Small bowel prolapse is more likely to develop if the pelvic muscles become damaged due to childbirth, surgery (hysterectomy) or are weakened as part of the normal aging process.
With small bowel prolapse, it’s possible to not experience any symptoms until it becomes so large that it intrudes on the vaginal canal. If the prolapse is more severe, symptoms will include:
If you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek appropriate medical treatment:
For a diagnosis of prolapse, your doctor will typically perform a physical examination along with a pelvic exam and a full medical history. In addition, there are several routine tests that your doctor can perform in order to determine the extent of the prolapse. These are:
All of these tests are fairly standard and relatively easy for patients to undergo. There is also a classification system which is used to determine the correct “stage” for any case of prolapse:
If pelvic organ prolapse symptoms are mild, there are a few less-invasive treatments that can help:
In addition to the above options, certain lifestyle changes may help with alleviating mild prolapse symptoms:
For more severe cases of prolapse, particularly if the prolapse symptoms are causing a lot of discomfort and inconvenience, surgery can be the best option for successful treatment.
Available surgical treatments for prolapse:
According to Medscape, approximately 300,000 women undergo some form of prolapse surgery in the U.S. each year. Success rates for any type of surgery will vary and are dependent on several factors.
Most importantly, the type of surgery selected to address the prolapse condition. Also, many patients who opt for prolapse surgery may decide to include an additional surgical procedure (urinary incontinence) while also addressing the prolapse.
For reconstructive surgery, success rates are between 78 percent and 100 percent* depending upon the type of surgical method used: vaginal vs. abdominal.
For obliterative surgery, patient satisfaction is higher with shorter operative time and lower rates of complications* during surgery.
A Nurse Navigator will get to know you and your condition and can help with next steps regarding treatment options.