An Overview of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
A pelvic organ prolapse is any displaced or descent of pelvic organs including dropped uterus, bladder, vagina or rectum. About 35 percent of women will develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. The board certified OBGYNs at Women’s Specialists of Plano are available to provide gynecological care to women living in the communities of Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas, including those experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic Organ Symptoms
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Feeling pressure from pelvic organs pressing against the vaginal wall. This is the most common symptom.
- Feeling very full in your lower belly.
- Feeling as if something is falling out of your vagina.
- Feeling a pull or stretch in your groin area or pain in your lower back.
- Having pain in your vagina during sex.
- Having problems with your bowels, such as constipation.
- Bladder problems
- Incontinence- Loss of bladder or bowel control and leakage or urine or feces.
- Emptying Disorders- Difficulty urinating or moving bowels
- Pain- Discomfort, burning or other uncomfortable pelvic symptoms, including bladder or urethral pain
- Overactive Bladder- Frequent need to urinate, uncomfortable bladder pressure, urge incontinence and difficulty holding a full bladder
These symptoms are oftentimes made worse with physical activities such as prolonged standing, jogging or bicycling.
Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Cystocele, the bulging bladder: is often referred to as a dropped bladder, and it is one of the most common prolapses among women following pregnancy and childbirth. During a cystocele, the normally flat upper vaginal wall loses its support and sinks downward and the bladder drops right along with it. When a cystocele becomes advanced, the bulge may become visible outside the vaginal opening. The symptoms caused by cystoceles can include vaginal bulging or pressure, slowing of the urinary stream, overactive bladder symptoms, and an inability to fully empty the bladder.
Enterocele, the female hernia: It is most often very difficult to conceptualize since it’s the intestines bulge downward into the upper vagina. The symptoms are often vague, including a bearing down pressure in the pelvis and vagina, and perhaps a lower backache. They often exist alongside vaginal vault prolapse in women who have had a hysterectomy.
Rectocele, the bulging rectum: rectoceles result from a weak lower vaginal wall, allowing the rectum to bulge upward. This creates an extra pouch in the normally straight rectal tube. Rectoceles cause symptoms related to incomplete emptying of the rectum. Even a rectocele bulge that cannot be visualized at the vaginal opening may cause difficulty with bowel movements.
Vaginal vault prolapse: If you have already had a hysterectomy, the top of the vagina has a greater chance of dropping and a bulge may form near the vaginal opening. Some case of vaginal vault prolapse can be managed with simple devices. Surgical repair is also common and can be performed by a number of vaginal, abdominal, and even laparoscopic techniques.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treatments
Pelvic organ prolapse can be treated in several ways, depending on the exact nature of the pelvic organ prolapse and its severity. You and your WSOP physician may discuss:
- Changes to your diet and fitness routine
- Considering a “pessary” – a rubber or plastic device, inserted vaginally and designed to relieve symptoms when in place
- Surgical procedures, such as pelvic floor reconstruction, to improve the pelvic organ prolapse. In recent years, dramatic advances have been made in the surgical treatment of this common gynecological condition
The goal of pelvic floor reconstruction is to restore the normal structure and function of the female pelvic organs and correct the pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse surgical repairs can be performed in a few basic ways:
- vaginal incisions,
- traditional abdominal incision, or
- a laparoscopic approach
Surgical repairs for prolapse sometimes involve the placement of ‘mesh’ or ‘graft’ materials, to reinforce areas of weakened tissues. This is especially common with the repair of more advanced prolapse conditions, or cases where a previous operation has failed. Please choose your surgeon carefully and wisely as the expertise and skill of the physician is extremely important in these procedures.
For more information on pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor reconstruction and other gynecological care, please contact the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas area doctors at Women’s Specialists of Plano at (972) 379-2416 or visit our online appointment request center.