Many women are affected by a condition called pelvic organ prolapse, a type of pelvic floor disorder. The pelvis is home to a group of muscles that serve as a hammock, to hold pelvic organs in place. These organs include the small bowel, bladder, uterus, urethra, vagina, and rectum.
When pelvic organ prolapse happens, one or more of the pelvic organs begins to descend out of place. Essentially, the hammock of muscles no longer effectively keeps the organ in its intended place, causing it to droop downward due to gravity.
Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse can happen to a variety of organs. The medical term to refer to a prolapsed organ depends on the specific organ that’s affected.
- Cystocele: Refers to the bladder prolapsing
- Urethrocele: Refers to the urethra prolapsing
- Uterine prolapse: Refers to the uterus prolapsing
- Enterocele: Refers to the small bowel prolapsing
- Vaginal vault prolapse: Refers to the vagina prolapsing
- Rectocele: Refers to the rectum prolapsing
Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The most common reasons for a pelvic organ prolapse are:
Pregnancy, labor, and childbirth put a lot of pressure on the pelvis, so for many women this is the most common cause of a pelvic organ prolapse.
Obesity puts additional pressure on the pelvis, and over time it can cause organs to prolapse.
Chronic Cough or Respiratory Problems
Women who have chronic conditions that cause significant coughing on a regular basis run a higher risk of developing a pelvic organ prolapse, due to consistent associated pressure on the pelvic area.
Another cause of pelvic organ prolapse is constipation. Women who experience prolonged constipation and have to apply extra pressure to get a bowel movement run a higher risk of developing the disorder. The organs in the pelvis are fairly sensitive and extra pressure can take a toll on them.
Genetics is also a cause of a pelvic organ prolapse. Women who have weaker connective tissues run a higher risk of developing the disorder and passing it on to their daughters.
Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Symptoms of a pelvic organ prolapse can vary from woman to woman. Symptoms can also vary depending on the specific organ that has prolapsed. Some common symptoms reported are:
- Pelvic discomfort: an unusually full sensation or pressure in the pelvic area
- Backache: lower back pain, which is more common with a small bowel prolapse
- Sexual discomfort: pain during sexual intercourse
- Urinary problems: urine leakage or chronic urge to urinate, which is more common with bladder or urethra prolapse
Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Treatment for a pelvic organ prolapse varies depending on the organ that has prolapsed, the severity of the prolapse, specific symptoms, and doctors’ recommendations for best results. Some common treatments include:
Strengthening exercises like Kegel exercises are great for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor may recommend a variety of these to help with a pelvic organ prolapse or to prevent one from happening in the future.
A pessary is a plastic device that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs from drooping. This is an effective treatment for some pelvic organ prolapses, but not all of them.
Surgery is also a viable treatment for pelvic organ prolapse where symptoms are severe and other treatments are not effective. The affected tissue is either repaired or removed through surgery.
Trusted Urologic Help in Arizona
Urologic Surgeons of Arizona offers a wealth of knowledge and experience diagnosing, treating, and preventing a variety of urologic conditions in men and women.
If you are in need of a trusted urologic team for your medical needs, such as a pelvic organ prolapse, Dr. Kashif Alvi and our caring medical staff are here to help.
Call (480) 409-5060 to make an appointment today. You can also request an appointment online.