What is Prolapse?
(Also called pelvic organ prolapse, uterine prolapse, vaginal prolapse, bladder prolapse, cystocele, rectocele, or enterocele.)
Pelvic organ prolapse with or without urinary incontinence is very common. In fact, even though it may not be talked about much, minor degrees of prolapse affect up to 50% of all women who have had a vaginal delivery, while 20% have symptoms that require them to seek care. One in 9 woman will have surgery for prolapse or incontinence in her lifetime.
Normally, a woman’s pelvic organs are supported by the muscles of the pelvis. Her uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum are held over the muscles that provide support to keep the organs in place. If the muscles or supportive connective tissue is weak, damaged, or stretched, eventually any or all of the organs can begin to slip downward into the vagina. Occasionally, if left untreated, the organs can actually protrude outside of the vagina or body.
The early symptoms of this can be a feeling of pressure at the end of the day, feeling like one is sitting on something all the time, feeling something protruding when wiping after voiding, an altered urinary stream or difficulty initiating voiding. Sometimes a woman will experience altered sensation with intercourse or feel like her partner is hitting something. Women with prolapse may also experience bladder or bowel symptoms such as difficulty controlling urges or incontinence with coughing, sneezing, exercising, and other activities.