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Pelvic Organ Prolapse: An Overview

By EmpowHER March 3, 2010 - 11:27am

Excess weight, pregnancy, childbirth and age are factors that contribute to pelvic organ prolapse per the U. S. National Library of Medicine states.

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the vagina and the organs that surround and support it fall from their normal position. Correcting this condition usually requires surgery. 


Symptoms of prolapse may include pressure in the vagina or pelvis; a lump or bulge at the opening of the vagina; and urinary, bowel and sexual dysfunction. Diagnostic evaluations include a Q-tip test, bladder function tests and pelvic floor strength tests; doctors may also use imaging tests such as an ultrasound, MRI or cystourethroscopy.

Treatment Options

Patients may benefit from a pessary (a device worn in the vagina for support), avoiding heavy lifting, Kegel exercises, estrogen supplementation, electrical stimulation and biofeedback. However, in most cases, surgery is eventually required.

About Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The network of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue in and around a woman's vagina acts as a complex support structure that holds pelvic organs in place. This support system may weaken or collapse, causing the pelvic organ to slip out of place (prolapse). There are different types of pelvic organ prolapse including rectal prolapse or rectocele, bladder prolapse or cystocele, uterine prolapse, and vaginal vault prolapse and herniated small bowel or enterocele. The condition usually gets worse over time and requires surgery to repair.

Many women develop vaginal prolapse, usually following menopause, childbirth or a hysterectomy. One in eleven women will require surgery for pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime — most of them over the age of 40.