A pelvic organ prolapse occurs when your uterus, bladder, or bowel fall downwards and towards the vaginal opening. This can occur due to weakening or stretching of the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments, and made worse by constipation, chronic coughs, and repetitive heavy lifting (e.g. of children, heavy weights at the gym). Postmenopausal women are more prone to prolapse as there is less estrogen in your body after menopause, making your vaginal tissues weaker & thinner.
What are the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?
- Discomfort, fullness or a lump in your vagina
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty voiding or emptying your bowel
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge
How do you treat prolapse?
Non-surgical treatments can be trialled first, including achieving the ideal weight, avoidance of straining, pelvic floor physiotherapy, cessation of smoking and vaginal estrogen therapy.
A vaginal pessary can be inserted to support the pelvic organs and keep the prolapse reduced. This requires review and changing every 4-6 months to ensure that there is no ulceration of the cervix or vagina.
If there is no significant improvement in the prolapse, surgical treatment can be undertaken with a pelvic floor repair.
What is a pelvic floor repair?
This is a surgical procedure to correct your prolapse. This may include a native tissue repair (colporraphy), vaginal vault suspension (vaginal or laparoscopic), or a hysterectomy depending on the type and severity of your prolapse.
What can I do to prevent prolapse?
You can reduce your risk of prolapse through:
- Regular pelvic floor exercises
- Avoidance of heavy lifting and constipation
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
Our specialists at Hunter Gynaecology are highly skilled in the management of pelvic organ prolapse, and will guide and support you in your treatment choices.