Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Prolapse is a common pelvic floor disorder that occurs when pelvic organs bulge downwards, usually through the vagina, and even through the vaginal opening.  Some loss of support is normal in women who have experienced childbirth, and symptoms do not usually occur unless the bulging reaches the vaginal opening. The most common symptom of prolapse is pressure or heaviness in the vagina, and seeing something bulging form the vaginal opening.  However, prolapse can also impact bladder and bowel function.

How do you know if you have Prolapse?
Prolapse can usually be diagnosed by a pelvic exam, although in some circumstances your physician may request imaging studies as well. Judging the significance of prolapse requires a careful review of your symptoms.  This is usually done through a questionnaire.

If you have been diagnosed
If you have been diagnosed with prolapse, there a few initial steps which may prevent worsening of your condition. Avoid heavy lifting, avoid standing for hours at a time, and make sure you have regular soft bowel movements.  If you have a chronic cough, you may want to see your family doctor about treating your lungs to decrease coughing.

Treatment options
There are a number of treatments to relieve the symptoms of prolapse, including surgical and non-surgical treatments. The most common non-surgical treatment is a pessary. There are also a number of different approaches to the surgical repair of prolapse. Your decision about treatment should be guided by how much the symptoms affect your daily life, and balanced against the potential inconvenience and risk of the treatment.