What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when an organ in the pelvic region, like the bladder, slips from its normal position (a prolapse) in the lower abdomen. In many cases, the bladder or other organs put pressure on the vaginal wall.
Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The most common cause of pelvic organ prolapse is the weakening of the pelvic muscles that hold organs in place. Pelvic organ prolapse often occurs after childbirth when pelvic muscles have been weakened and/or stretched. While the bladder is the most common organ to prolapse due to a weakening of the pelvic muscles, other organs that can shift position include:
- Urethra (the tube from which urine is expelled from the body)
- Small bowel
- Other causes of pelvic organ prolapse include: excess weight, a long-standing cough, frequent constipation and pelvic tumors.
Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Pressure along the vaginal wall (sometimes this pressure makes intercourse painful)
- Feeling of fullness within the lower abdominal region
- A pull in the groin or lower back
- Incontinence (involuntary urinary leakage)
- Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Treatments for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Treatment is determined in consultation with a urologic surgeon and is based on the seriousness of the problem. If the problem is minor, simple exercises recommended by your urologist may strengthen the pelvic muscles to better hold organs in their proper place. In more serious cases, surgery may be required. In many cases, minimally invasive and/or robotic surgery may be employed; lessening recovery time and delivering desired outcomes.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, speak with your primary care physician and ask for a recommendation of a urologist in your area.