Female Pelvic Prolapse
A woman’s pelvic organs, such as the bladder, are supported by muscles and ligaments. When those weaken, the pelvic organs can slip out of place and cause a bulge in the vagina, also called a female pelvic prolapse.
Types of Pelvic Prolapse
The terms for the different types of female pelvic prolapse depends upon the organs affected.
- Cystocele is a prolapse of the bladder and is the most common form of pelvic prolapse.
- Urethrocele is a prolapse of the urethra.
- Vaginal vault prolapse is a prolapse of the vagina.
- Enterocele is a prolapse of the small bowel.
- Rectocele is a prolapse of the rectum.
- Uterine prolapse is a prolapse of the uterus.
Female pelvic prolapse typically happens years after childbirth, but anything that puts increased pressure in the abdomen can contribute.
Common causes include:
- Pregnancy, labor, and childbirth (most often occurs several years after)
- Respiratory problems with a chronic, long-term cough
- Pelvic organ cancers
- Genetically weak connective tissue (possible cause)
The symptoms of female pelvic prolapse depend upon which organ is affected. For instance, if the bladder is prolapsed, urine leakage may occur. Some women may not experience any symptoms at all, but some signs that may be present depending on the type of prolapse include:
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area
- Aching in the lower back
- Painful intercourse
- A feeling that something is falling out of the vagina
- Urine leakage or a frequent urge to urinate
- Spotting or bleeding from the vagina
Treatment of female pelvic prolapse depends on the severity of symptoms and can include a variety of options, such as:
- Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- The insertion of a small plastic device called a pessary into the vagina to provide support for the slipped organs
- Surgical repair or removal of the affected organ
If you’re a woman who suspects you may be experiencing a pelvic prolapse, the Urology specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston can diagnose you through a variety of tests that may include X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI of the pelvis. They can also provide treatment tailored to your specific type of prolapse.