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Prolapse – Overview

February 3, 2021


“What is prolapse? Prolapse is herniation of the pelvic organs into the vagina. Often refer to as quote unquote falling bladder. Although any pelvic organ can actually prolapse into the vagina. The terms vaginal prolapse and pelvic organ prolapse are broad terms that describe any pelvic organ prolapse into the vagina, but specifically a cystocele is the bladder prolapsing, rectocele is the rectum, uterine or cervical prolapse are the uterus and cervix, and faults prolapse is the top of the vagina falling after the uterus has been removed. The term rectal prolapse is reserved for when the rectum is prolapsing through the anal canal itself and not the vagina. A prolapsed bladder is the most common type of prolapse, although a prolapsed uterus is also quite common. Prolapse symptoms range from vague pelvic pressure to a woman feeling or even seeing a vaginal bulge.

Some women experience difficulty urinating and less commonly, some women have inability to urinate. The main risk factor for prolapse is vaginal delivery. Most women do not experience symptoms of prolapse until her fifth decade of life, or later as age and menopause also contributes to prolapse. Other risk factors for prolapse include chronic constipation and certain connective tissue disorders. Although surgery is commonly performed for prolapse, many women ask, how can I fix prolapse without surgery? If a woman isn’t bothered by her prolapse, she doesn’t need to do anything about the prolapse at all. A woman can do pelvic muscle exercises or Kegel exercises. Although these can help strengthen the pelvic floor, they don’t truly cure the prolapse, as the ligaments that support the muscles have been stretched and torn during delivery. Pelvic floor exercises can be done with the instruction of a pelvic floor physical therapist. Another non-surgical option for prolapse is the use of a pessary, which is similar to diaphragms that used to be used for birth control. Someone needs to remove clean and replace the pessary periodically. And if a woman is bothered enough and has failed Kegel exercises and doesn’t want, or a pessary didn’t work for her, then she can have surgery. The organs prolapsing and the severity of the prolapse will determine what type of surgery she needs. The main complications of prolapse are embarrassment and impairment of quality of life. Fortunately, it is rare for prolapse to be so severe that a woman who retains so much urine that it affects her kidney function, or she is unable to urinate at all.”

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