Pelvic Organ Prolapse – Treatment and Prevention

A prolapse is a drooping or descending of organs, in this case of the pelvic organs, which are the rectum, vagina, cervix, uterus, and bladder. These are all supported by the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles allow you to be able to control your bladder and bowel movement. Additionally, they are important during birth, as they provide extra support for the baby. The pelvic muscles are just as important when it comes to sexual intercourse for women and men. These muscles also help toward supporting the spine, together with your back and abdominal muscles.

These muscles and their tissues can weaken and no longer be able to complete their function. Once the muscles can no longer give the proper support, one or several organs of the pelvic descend, leading to the condition known as pelvic organ prolapse.

Risk factors

One of the most common reasons that lead to pelvic organ prolapse is pregnancy. This is also why women are more affected by the condition than men. Other reasons may be obesity, constipation, chronic coughing, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), etc. It’s believed that genetics may also play a part in the condition development.

The condition of pelvic organ prolapse may also be known in different terms, depending on the affected organ.

  • A prolapse of the bladder is known as a cystocele.
  • A descending of the urethra, urethrocele
  • A prolapse of the uterine, simply known as uterine prolapse
  • Prolapse of the small bowel, enterocele
  • A rectum descending is known as rectocele

There are some conditions that may lead to pelvic organ prolapse, such as:

  • Marfan’s syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndromes
  • Joint hypermobility syndrome

The condition sometimes shows no symptoms at all, while others may experience:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Constipation
  • Pressure or a feeling of being full in the pelvic region
  • Bleeding or spotting outside the menstrual cycle
  • Urinary incontinence, the involuntary excretion of urine

The symptoms that appear have to do with what organ is affected. Urinary incontinence refers to a bladder prolapse, constipation refers to rectum descending. Back pain is usually a symptom of small intestine prolapse, while uncomfortable intercourse may be a symptom of the uterine descending.


Pelvic organ prolapse diagnosis usually occurs after one or several symptoms start to show. However, it can also stand out during a routine exam, for example, a Pap smear. To confirm the diagnosis a CT scan, ultrasound or MRI of the pelvis may be needed, or an X-ray of the urinary tract.

As there are cases, where the condition does not show any symptoms, it is important to get your regular check-up done with a gynecologist. To exclude other issues, your doctor may also take a urine test, to make sure that there are no infections or insert a supra-pubic catheter; a small tube inserted into your bladder to search for other problems.

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