Vaginal prolapse is the inward and downward bulging of the vaginal walls. It occurs when the supporting tissues of the lower pelvis weaken. The lack of support causes the walls of the vagina walls to collapse. Other structures or organs near the vagina are also shifted. Types of vaginal prolapse include:
Vaginal prolapse may not cause any symptoms. But when it does, the symptoms may include:
A feeling of vaginal fullness or heaviness
A feeling of pulling in the pelvis
Discomfort in the vagina
Low backache that is relieved with lying down
Urination when laughing, coughing, or exercising
Difficulty with bowel movements
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Vaginal prolapse that has no symptoms may be diagnosed during routine gynecologic examinations. Your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist, who will perform a pelvic exam.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. First or second degree prolapse without symptoms may not require treatment. Treatment options include:
Kegel exercises consist of a conscious effort to ‘squeeze’ the pelvic muscles. It should feel like you were trying to prevent urination. Each ‘squeeze’ (contraction) of the muscles should be held for 10 seconds, and then relaxed. Repeat a total of ten times for each exercise period. The entire routine should be repeated four times per day.
Your doctor may insert a pessary into the upper portion of the vagina. A pessary is a rubbery, doughnut-shaped device. It helps to prop up the uterus and bladder.
Vaginal prolapse that is severe or associated with lasting symptoms may require surgery. Surgery, called pelvic reconstruction, usually includes colporrhaphy and perhaps hysterectomy. Colporrhaphy is the surgical repair of the pelvic support structures. The vagina is also sutured to a stable structure to suspend it.
If you are diagnosed with vaginal prolapse, follow your doctor's instructions.
*¹5/11/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Fritel X, Varnoux N, Zins M, Breart G, Ringa V. Symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse at midlife, quality of life, and risk factors. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;113:609-616.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a