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Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What You Need to Know

by Jessica Lubahn September 07, 2020 3 min read

Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What You Need to Know


Pelvic organ prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder that affects up to one-third of all women, either having the disorder itself or experiencing similar conditions. 

But what is a pelvic prolapse and are there any treatments? Read on to learn all about this pelvic floor disorder.


What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The term prolapse refers to the descending or drooping of one’s organs, sometimes down into or out of the vaginal canal. With that in mind, pelvic prolapse is the drooping of your pelvic floor organs, which include your:


  • Bladder
  • Rectum
  • Small bowel
  • Uterus
  • Vagina


Any of these organs could prolapse if they descended to or out of your vaginal canal or anus.


The Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Increased pressure around your abdomen may lead to pelvic prolapse. The common causes behind such pressure are:


  • Pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, which are the most common reasons behind prolapse
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory issues with chronic and long-term coughing
  • Pelvic organ cancer
  • Surgical removal of your uterus, or hysterectomy
  • Having an active job which requires heavy lifting


Genetics may play a role in pelvic prolapse, as well as gender since connective tissues might be weaker in a few women.


Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Some people don’t notice any symptoms at all, but here are reports of some common experiences:


  • You feel pressure or some fullness around your pelvic area
  • Aches around your lower back
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • You feel like something's falling out of your vagina
  • Constipation and urinary problems (like incontinence)
  • Bleeding or spotting from your vagina
Woman in Gray Tank Top While Sitting on Bed

The symptoms vary, depending on what organ is prolapsing. For instance, if your bladder prolapses, you can experience urine leakage. If it’s your rectum, uncomfortable sex and constipation may occur.

This disorder is diagnosed after heading to the doctor, who will order various tests that might include:


  • A manual examination in the office
  • Pelvic x-ray, or intravenous pyelography
  • CT scan of your pelvis
  • Ultrasound of your pelvis
  • MRI scan of your pelvis
Woman in Blue Scrub Suit Helping Woman Sitting on Bed

The doctor may even discover the prolapse during a pelvic exam, usually when getting a Pap smear. Because some don’t feel the symptoms, it’s best to have a routine pelvic exam yearly to make sure you don’t have the pelvic prolapse, especially if you fall under the risk factors.


Prevention and Treatment of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Treating pelvic prolapse depends on the severity of your symptoms. There are different types of pelvic prolapse to show its severity, usually measured on a scale from 1 to 4.


There are various therapies your doctor will recommend and prescribe to you, such as:


  • Behavioral treatments like performing Kegel exercises for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles
  • Mechanical treatments like inserting a pessary to your vagina, supporting the drooping organs
  • Surgical treatments to repair affected organs or tissues, or to remove your affected organ completely if necessary.


Unfortunately, the risk factors for pelvic prolapse are out of our control, which includes our family histories, age, as well as our childbirth and specific surgical procedures we have had.


However, there are ways to reduce the chances of pelvic prolapses, such as:


  • Performing Kegel exercises daily
  • Maintaining a healthy weight range
  • Avoid or quit smoking completely
  • Avoid constipation, eating a healthier and fiber-rich diet
  • Do not perform high-impact exercises and activities that involve jumping, running, and/or heavy lifting


Living with Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Fortunately, pelvic prolapse isn’t life-threatening. However, it does cause a lot of pain and discomfort, especially if you suffer from severe symptoms. That’s why if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, do have it checked by a medical professional.


I hope that this information on pelvic prolapse helped you out! Do stay aware of such symptoms and take care of your body.


If you have issue with urine incontinence or urine leaks, check out ONDRwear, a luxe and absorbent leak proof underwear. 

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Jessica Lubahn
Jessica Lubahn

Dr. Jessica Lubahn, a Washington University School of Medicine (in St. Louis) graduate, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology with over 13 years of experience in the medical field. Aside from practicing in Portland, Dr. Lubahn is a health writer and consultant, and the founder of ONDRwear. Dr. Lubahn’s mission is to destigmatize menstrual, urinary, and other types of leakage, by creating effective, beautiful products. Dr. Lubahn prides herself on patient care and is committed to providing the highest quality care to all of her patients, as well as her customers.

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