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American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
Gynecology

Providing a full spectrum of services including preventive, diagnostic, alternative and advanced surgical options

Pelvic Support Problems

 

Pelvic organ prolapse symptoms

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which one or more pelvic organs slip to a lower position in the pelvis. It generally occurs when pelvic muscles or fibrous pelvic tissues tear, stretch or weaken. Pelvic organ prolapse is a common condition, affecting about one of every three women age 45 or older. It is most common in women who have given birth, but it can be caused or aggravated by a variety of conditions and procedures, including obesity, constipation and hysterectomy.

Many women whose bodies experience pelvic organ prolapse have no symptoms and are not bothered by the condition. However, pelvic organ prolapse can cause the following symptoms:

  • a feeling of abdominal pressure, pulling, heaviness or fullness
  • difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement
  • urine leakage
  • chronic bladder infections
  • a bulge in the vagina
  • organs bulging out of the vagina
  • lower back pain
  • sexual difficulties
  • problems with inserting tampons or applicators

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call our office. Diagnosis and treatment may bring relief.

Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic organ prolapse

For women who have symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, we generally recommend a thorough exam and a review of your medical history. Treatment would depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • severity of symptoms
  • degree of prolapse
  • your age
  • your desire for children in the future
  • your sexual activity
  • other health problems

Several options may provide relief. Following are the primary treatment options.

Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles that surround the openings of the urethra, vagina, and rectum.

Changes in diet and lifestyle may help relieve specific symptoms, especially those related to incontinence.

Pessaries are elastic or rigid devices that are inserted into the vagina to support pelvic organs. They can be used for short-term or long-term treatment, and some can be used by women who are sexually active.

Surgery can restore the normal depth and function of the vagina. Reconstructive surgery can be done through the vagina or abdomen based on the type of support problem. Another kind of surgery uses synthetic mesh to support the muscles and connective tissues which span the area underneath the pelvis. Either type of surgery can interfere with pregnancy, and it is possible for the prolapse to occur again following surgery.