What is pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse means that an organ in your lower belly—such as your bladder—has moved from its normal position and is pressing against your vagina. This can happen when the muscles and tissues that support your pelvic organs get weak or damaged. It may be painful or uncomfortable. But it usually isn't dangerous.

What happens when you have pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse often doesn't cause problems. But sometimes it causes symptoms, such as urinary problems or pain during intercourse. Pelvic organ prolapse may get worse over time and cause more severe symptoms. But in some cases, it gets better over time.

What are the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?

You may not have any symptoms. Or pressure on your vagina may cause discomfort or problems with your pelvic organs. Symptoms may include:

  • Feeling pressure or fullness in your lower belly.
  • Feeling as if something is actually falling out of your vagina.
  • Feeling a pull or a stretch in the groin area or a low backache.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Urinary problems. For example, you may release urine without meaning to (incontinence). Or you may have a frequent or urgent need to urinate.
  • Problems with bowel movements. You may be constipated or need to support the back (posterior) of the vaginal wall to have a bowel movement.

Symptoms are worse when you stand, jump, or lift. They usually are relieved if you lie down.

How is pelvic organ prolapse treated?

You may not need or want treatment. But if symptoms bother you, you can try doing Kegel exercises and staying at a healthy weight. You can also try a pessary. Surgery may also be an option.

How is pelvic organ prolapse diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your past and current health. This includes asking about your symptoms and past pregnancies. Your doctor will also do a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. And you may have other tests. Pelvic organ prolapse that doesn't cause symptoms may be found during a routine exam.

Caring for yourself when you have pelvic organ prolapse

Home treatment can relieve the discomfort of pelvic organ prolapse. It can also help to keep prolapse from getting worse.

  • Do Kegel exercises every day to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis.
  • Ask your doctor about a vaginal pessary. You can place this in your vagina to help support your pelvic organs. Your doctor can teach you how and when to remove, clean, and reinsert it.
  • Prevent or correct constipation.

    The straining caused by constipation increases pressure from the bowel on the vaginal wall and weakens and damages the connective tissue and muscles in the pelvis.

  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Avoid activities that stress your pelvic muscles, such as heavy lifting.
  • Try lying down with a pillow under your knees. This eases pressure on your vagina. You also can lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest.

Abdominal Sacrocolpopexy

Abdominal sacrocolpopexy

What causes pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that hold your pelvic organs in place get weak or damaged. It's often linked to pregnancy and vaginal childbirth. During pregnancy and delivery, pelvic muscles can get stretched and injured. Other causes of prolapse include aging, menopause, obesity, and frequent constipation.

What is pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse means that a pelvic organ—such as your bladder—has moved from its normal position and is pressing against your vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse often isn't a big health problem. But it can be uncomfortable or painful. It can be treated if it bothers you.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.