In-Depth Look at Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Discover the world of pelvic organ prolapse - a condition where organs in the pelvis shift from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. Although not life-threatening, this condition can cause discomfort and pain. Learn about the symptoms, from heaviness and dragging sensations to bulges and urinary issues. Find out how pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes can help improve symptoms, and explore the factors that can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse. Stay informed and take control of your pelvic health!
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. These organs can include the uterus, bowel, bladder, or the top of the vagina. While a prolapse is not life-threatening, it can cause pain and discomfort. Symptoms can often be improved through pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes, but in some cases, medical treatment may be necessary.
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse may include:
- Feeling of heaviness around the lower abdomen and genitals
- Dragging discomfort inside the vagina
- Sensation of something descending into the vagina, which may resemble sitting on a small ball
- Presence of a bulge or lump in or protruding from the vagina
- Discomfort or numbness during sexual intercourse
- Urinary problems, such as the feeling of incomplete bladder emptying, increased frequency of urination, or experiencing leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing, or exercising (stress incontinence)
Sometimes, pelvic organ prolapse can be asymptomatic and only discovered during an internal examination conducted for other reasons, such as cervical screening.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs, collectively known as the pelvic floor, become weakened and unable to hold the organs firmly in place. Several factors can contribute to the weakening of the pelvic floor and increase the risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse. These factors include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth, particularly with a long or difficult birth, or in cases of delivering a large baby or multiple babies
- Aging and the menopause
- Being overweight
- Chronic constipation or a long-term health condition causing coughing and straining
- Undergoing a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
- Engaging in a job that involves significant heavy lifting.