The pelvic organs include the vagina, uterus, bladder, urethra, and rectum. These organs are held in place by muscles of the pelvic floor. Layers of connective tissue also give support. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when tissue and muscles can no longer support the pelvic organs and they drop down.
The main cause of POP is pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, which can weaken muscles of the pelvic floor. Other causes of pelvic support problems include menopause, aging, and repeated heavy lifting. Conditions that create pressure on the abdomen can cause POP, including being overweight or obese; being constipated and straining to have bowel movements; and chronic coughing caused by smoking, asthma, or other medical conditions. POP can occur at any age, but most women who develop symptoms do so after menopause.
Symptoms can come on gradually and may not be noticed at first. Many women have no symptoms and do not know they have a prolapse. An obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other healthcare professional may discover a prolapse during a physical exam.
When POP is mild, sometimes a bulge can be felt inside the vagina. For severe cases of POP, organs may push out of the vaginal opening. Women with symptoms may experience the following:
Proper diagnosis is key to treating pelvic support problems. Your ob-gyn or other healthcare professional will ask for your medical history and do vaginal and rectal exams. You may be examined while lying down or while standing. You may be asked to strain or cough during the exam to see if you leak urine. You may be checked to see how completely your bladder empties.
This information was provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For more information on uterine and pelvic organ prolapse click HERE.
Sandpoint Women's Health treats pelvic organ prolapse. Call 208-263-2173 to make an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers or click the button below to request an appointment.