Vaginal prolapse is a widespread condition that affects one in five women in the United States. The condition is common among mature women with multiple vaginal deliveries, overweight women, and women going through menopause.
A prolapse occurs when the uterus, bladder, urethra, or rectum drop down and protrude into or out of the vagina due to weakened pelvic muscles that support these organs in place.
There are different types of vaginal prolapse, the most common ones being:
- Anterior Prolapse or Cystocele: Occurs when the bladder ¨falls¨ into the front wall of the vagina
- Uterine Prolapse: When the uterus ¨falls¨ into the vagina
- Posterior Prolapse: When the wall separating the rectum from the vagina weakens, causing the rectum to bulge into or out of the vagina
- Vaginal Vault Prolapse: When the top of the vagina sags down in the vagina, this occurs more often among women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
Causes of Vaginal Prolapse
Unfortunately, vaginal prolapses don´t always present clear symptoms; other times, the symptoms can be overlooked or associated with other conditions. Signs will also depend on the organ that is prolapsed and can include:
- Feeling or seeing a lump or bulge at the opening of the vagina
- Heaviness or pain in the lower back or lower stomach
- Painful intercourse
- Changes in urinary frequency or function
- Urinary incontinence when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, or have sex
- Changes in bowel movements
- Feeling as if you are sitting on a ball
The best treatment is always prevention:
- Avoid lifting heavy things
- Maintain healthy habits: don´t smoke and maintain a good weight
- Practice pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegels. These movements help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles; all it takes is squeezing the muscles you use to hold in and release urine several times a day. Kegels are easy to do and can be done anywhere, anytime. Ask your physician about the proper way to do them and the recommended frequency. Pelvic exercises can also help revert a prolapse in its initial stages.
For those women who are already experiencing the symptoms of vaginal prolapse, treatment options are available.
Speak to Your OB-GYN
Consulting an ob-gyn is necessary. All patients must undergo a complete medical examination to determine the type, complexity, and degree of prolapse present.
Your OB-GYN can recommend lifestyle changes or non-surgical treatments such as Kegel exercises, hormone treatments, or even a vaginal pessary. Pessaries are silicon or plastic devices inserted in the vagina to provide support to the organs.
Surgery may be necessary in cases where other methods do not help. There are different options for surgery. Your OB-GYN will make the recommendation based on the type of prolapse and the complexity of the same.
If you think you may be suffering from vaginal prolapse, schedule an appointment with one of our OB-GYN specialists immediately.
Acting fast can make a big difference in the treatment you will require and your quality of life. At Women’s OB-GYN Center, we offer a free initial consultation. With two locations in Pasadena and Webster, excellent care is closer and more convenient than you may think.