Pelvic prolapse

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that supports the organs in the pelvic area, including your bladder, uterus and intestines. When those muscles weaken, one or more of these organs might drop (prolapse) from its normal place, pushing into the vagina or large intestine and rectum.

Who gets pelvic prolapse?

Pelvic prolapse typically occurs in women as they get older. Risk factors include pregnancy, childbirth, especially a large baby or traumatic delivery, and being overweight. Genetics plays a large role. It’s estimated that one-third of all women will experience it at some point.

What causes pelvic prolapse?

Pelvic prolapse occurs when the muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched. Carrying a pregnancy and childbirth may contribute to the condition. Pelvic prolapse can be made worse by adding pressure to the pelvic area from being overweight, chronic coughing or constipation.

What are the symptoms of pelvic prolapse?

Pelvic prolapse

Depending on the organs that have prolapsed, symptoms can include:

  • Pressure — like something's pressing on your vaginal wall
  • The sensation of feeling very full in your lower belly
  • Feeling as if something is falling out of your vagina
  • Stretching in your groin area
  • Pain in your lower back
  • Trickling urine or needing to urinate frequently
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Difficulty passing a bowel movement
  • Painful intercourse

How is pelvic prolapse diagnosed?

Your HonorHealth gynecologist will take your health history, ask more detailed questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam, which will include a pelvic exam.

From there, you may be referred for additional tests that might include a urinary tract X-ray and a CT scan, ultrasound or MRI of the pelvis.

How is pelvic prolapse treated?

Treatment options will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the pelvic organs that have prolapsed. Treatment might include:

  • Kegel exercises, which are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • A pessary, a small removable device inserted into the vagina to provide support for the prolapsed organ(s)
  • Surgery, either to repair the affected tissue or organ or to remove the uterus via hysterectomy