Pelvic organ prolapse is bulging of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vagina.
These organs are the uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder.
Symptoms may include:
Some women with a pelvic organ prolapse don't have any symptoms and the condition is only discovered during an internal examination for another reason, such as a cervical screening .
Pelvic organ prolapse isn't life-threatening, but it can affect your quality of life.
See your GP if you have any of the symptoms of a prolapse, or if you notice a lump in or around your vagina.
Your doctor will need to carry out an internal pelvic examination.They'll ask you to undress from the waist down and lie back on the examination bed, while they feel for any lumps in your pelvic area.
Some women may put off going to their GP if they're embarrassed or worried about what the doctor may find. However, the examination is important, only takes a few minutes and is similar to having a smear test.
If you have bladder symptoms, such as needing to rush to the toilet or leaking when you cough and sneeze, further testsmay need to becarried out in hospital.
For example, a small tube (catheter) may be inserted into your bladder to examine your bladder function and identify any leakage problems. This test is known as urodynamics.
Your doctor will decide iffurther tests are needed before treating the prolapse.
If pelvic organ prolapse is confirmed, it will usually be staged to indicate how severe it is. Most often, a number system is used, ranging fromone to four, withfour indicating a severe prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse can affect the front, top or back of the vagina. The main types of prolapse are:
It's possible to have more than one of thesetypes of prolapseat the same time.
Prolapse is caused by weakening of tissues that support the pelvic organs. Although there's rarely a single cause,the risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse can be increased by:
Certainconditionscan alsocause the tissues in your body to become weak, making a prolapse more likely, including:
There areseveral things you can do to reduce your risk of prolapse, including:
If you smoke, stopping smoking may also help to reduce your risk of a prolapse.
Many women with prolapse don't need treatment, as the problem doesn't seriously interfere with their normal activities.
Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and pelvic floor exercises are usually recommended in mild cases.
If the symptoms require treatment, a prolapse may be treated effectively using a device inserted into the vagina, called a vaginal pessary. This helps to hold the prolapsed organ in place.
Surgery may also be an option for some women. This usually involves giving support to the prolapsed organ.In some cases, complete removal of the womb( hysterectomy ) is required, especially if the womb has prolapsed out.
Most women experience a better quality of life after surgery, but there's a risk of problems remaining or even getting worse.