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What is a Pelvic Floor Prolapse?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Pelvic floor prolapse is a condition in which a woman’s pelvic organs drop from their normal positioning. In such a case, the organs of the pelvis may drop down far enough to protrude into or out of a woman’s vagina. Among the organs that may be involved in pelvic floor prolapse are the bladder, uterus, and rectum. In some cases, the small intestine may be involved as well or the upper section of the vagina may fall into the lower part. This condition is typically caused by the weakening of the muscles and connective tissues in the area.

The pelvic floor performs supportive duty for a woman’s pelvic organs; it is made up of ligament, muscle, and other tissues that together provide this critical support. Sometimes, the muscles in this area become weak or suffer injury. Ligaments and other supportive tissues may become overly stretched or sustain damage. When this happens, the pelvic floor loses its ability to effectively support the pelvic organs, allowing them to move into the vagina. Sometimes, the condition is minor, but in severe cases, the pelvic organs hang out of the vaginal opening.

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There are several causes of pelvic floor prolapse. One of the most common is pregnancy and childbirth. Vaginal deliveries may help stretch or weaken the pelvic floor. As such, women who have given birth multiple times may be more at risk. Though pregnancy itself may weaken the pelvic floor tissues to some extent, women who have cesarean deliveries may have less risk of developing pelvic floor prolapse.

Besides pregnancy and childbirth, there is a range of other health issues or conditions that may contribute to pelvic floor prolapse. For example, obesity and repeated heavy lifting may contribute to the problem. Those who have conditions that cause chronic coughing may develop this condition as well. Sometimes pelvic floor prolapse develops in individuals who have damaged nerves that affect the pelvic floor or even in those who have tumors. Additionally, defects in the pelvic floor, injuries, and even aging can increase a woman’s risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms of pelvic floor prolapse may include a sensation of heaviness in the vaginal area. Some women also feel as if an organ is falling out of their bodies. In some cases, sexual activity can be painful as well. It’s important to note that a woman may have this condition and not experience any symptoms. In such a case, the condition may be discovered during a pelvic exam.

Treatment of pelvic floor prolapse may depend on the extent of the condition. Mild cases may be treated with Kegel exercises, which help to strengthen the pelvic muscles. These exercises involve tightening and releasing the same muscles a woman may use to stop her urine stream. Sometimes, prolapse is treated with inserts that help to support the pelvic organs. In severe cases, surgery is often the preferred treatment.

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