Believe it or not, your reproductive organs can shift out of place. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more of the organs in your pelvis drop from its usual position.
In women, this includes your uterus or what is called the “vaginal vault” located at the innermost end of the vaginal canal. When prolapse occurs, you may feel a heaviness, pressure, or bulge in your genital area or lower abdomen. It may even feel like something is falling out of your vagina, or like you’re sitting on a ball.
Pelvic organ prolapse is also very common, with an estimated one-third to one-half of all women experiencing it at some point in their lives.
Cause & Risk Factors
Prolapse occurs when pelvic floor muscles and other connective tissue become stretched and strained over time. Your pelvic floor acts as a hammock to support the organs in your pelvis, which include the vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, urethra, and rectum.
Anything that can weaken your pelvic floor muscles can contribute toward eventual prolapse of your uterus or vaginal vault. Factors that may increase your risk of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Age (the majority of diagnoses are in women 60+)
- Vaginal childbirth, especially multiple births or giving birth to a baby that weighs more than 8 ½ pounds
- Family history of pelvic organ prolapse
- Persistent and severe coughing
- Straining during bowel movements
A pelvic organ prolapse can cause pain and discomfort, urinary incontinence, and can make physical activity or even standing for any length of time difficult. Prolapse can also lead to painful sex, as well as difficulty becoming aroused or achieving orgasm. Without medical intervention, the prolapse and your symptoms may worsen.
Your Treatment Options
To treat a uterine prolapse or prolapsed vaginal vault, contact the skilled and compassionate OB-GYN team at EstrogenicA Health 360. We have the experience and expertise to treat all your reproductive health needs.
Treating a prolapsed uterus or vaginal vault may include:
A pessary is a custom-fit, removable device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the organs in your pelvic region. Pessaries come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some types of pessaries can address multiple issues, such as pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, which is especially helpful because prolapse often occurs in women already suffering from incontinence.
If a pessary fails to help you, your EstrogenicA Health 360 OB-GYN provider may recommend pelvic floor reconstruction surgery to reinforce the pelvic floor so that your uterus and vagina are properly supported. For women who are no longer sexually active, a less-invasive vaginal closure surgery (colpocleisis) may be recommended. In some cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended.
Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Treatment for pelvic organ prolapse very often includes the following methods to strengthen pelvic muscles and other connective tissue. These therapies can also help prevent prolapse from occurring.
- Kegel exercises – Also called pelvic floor exercises, Kegels involve contracting and releasing the muscles that control urine flow. Follow the advice of your medical provider, but performing 10-15 repetitions three times a day is a good place to start.
- Physical therapy – There are specific exercises you can do to help strengthen your core, which can help with prolapse, as well as urinary incontinence.
Additional preventive techniques involve addressing the risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse. For example, you should lose weight if you are obese, or consume more fiber to help avoid straining during bowel movements.