Pelvic Organ Prolapse, a type of pelvic floor disorder, can affect many women. In fact, about one-third of all women are affected by prolapse or similar conditions over their lifetime.
The "pelvic floor" is a group of muscles that form a kind of hammock across your pelvic opening. Normally, these muscles and the tissues surrounding them keep the pelvic organs in place. These organs include your uterus, small bowel, and rectum.
Sometimes, these muscles and tissue develop problems. Some women develop pelvic floor disorders following. And, as women age, their pelvic organ prolapses, and other pelvic floor disorders become more common.
When pelvic floor disorders develop, one or more of the pelvic organs may stop working properly. Conditions associated with pelvic floor disorders include:
"Prolapse" refers to a descending or drooping of organs. Pelvic organ prolapse refers to the prolapse or drooping of any of the pelvic floor organs, including:
These organs are said to prolapse if they descend into or outside of the vaginal canal
Cystocele: A prolapse of the bladder into the vagina, the most common condition
Anything that puts increased pressure in the abdomen can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. Common causes include:
Genetics may also play a role in pelvic organ prolapse. Connective tissues may be weaker in some women, perhaps placing them more at risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Some women notice nothing at all, but others report these symptoms with pelvic organ prolapse:
Symptoms depend somewhat on which organ is drooping. If the bladder prolapses, urine leakage may occur. If it's the rectum, constipation and uncomfortable intercourse often occur. A backache as well as uncomfortable intercourse often accompanies small intestine prolapse. Uterine prolapse is also accompanied by backache and uncomfortable intercourse.
Your doctor may discover pelvic organ prolapse during a routine pelvic exam, such as the one you get when you go for your Pap smear.
Treatment of pelvic organ prolapse depends on how severe the symptoms are. Treatment can include a variety of therapies, including:
But you can reduce the likelihood you will have problems. Try these steps: