Pelvic prolapse, also referred to as pelvic organ prolapse, is actually quite common among women. Many women experience one form of prolapse or another after childbirth or during menopause, but the condition is not well known or often discussed.
If you are new to the condition, prolapse can seem very surprising and worrisome. Fortunately, there are safe, effective methods of treatment for each type of pelvic prolapse, and a number of these treatments are offered at the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco (UGCSF).
What is pelvic prolapse?
Pelvic prolapse is when a pelvic organ like the vagina, uterus, bladder, small bowel, or rectum drops (or “prolapses”) from its place. This condition occurs most frequently due to weakened pelvic floor muscles from giving birth or age. However, there are other medical reasons, including obesity, chronic constipation, pelvic tumors, or even a difficult and persistent cough.
What does pelvic prolapse feel like?
Symptoms can vary from woman to woman, but most patients report the following symptoms:
- A feeling that something is falling out of the vagina
- A feeling of pressure in the pelvic region, lower back or lower stomach
- Urinary incontinence
- Painful intercourse
Discomfort, pain and severity of prolapse can be different for each patient. For some women, pelvic prolapse is uncomfortable but mild. For others, the condition is painful, interrupts their daily routine, and negatively affects their quality of life.
How is pelvic prolapse treated?
Because the condition can vary so widely from person to person, your provider will address treatment on a case-by-case basis. In mild cases of prolapse, lifestyle changes and pelvic exercises may be used in order to strengthen muscles. Inserts called pessaries can be fitted and used as supports that sit in the vagina to help hold up the prolapse. In more severe cases, surgery (pelvic reconstructive) may be required in order to repair and strengthen areas of the pelvic floor. Dr. Wittenberg of UGCSF specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic prolapse, including vaginal, small bowel, anterior vaginal and posterior vaginal cases.