What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
The vagina and its surrounding structures (bladder, rectum, etc.) are attached to the pelvis by connective tissues. These tissues help form walls around the vagina, and ensure that normal urinary voiding and bowel movements can occur. As the pelvic muscles become weak the connective tissues can fail, allowing pelvic structures like the bladder or rectum to bulge into the vaginal wall. This can cause the following symptoms:
- A feeling of vaginal fullness, heaviness, or even pain
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Involuntary urination or inconsistent urinary stream
- Difficulty with bowel movements
- Recurrent urinary or bladder infections
What causes pelvic organ prolapse?
Pelvic muscles and connective tissues which have been weakened with age are the primary cause, but many other factors may play a role. These may include vaginal childbirth, previous vaginal surgeries, menopause, smoking, diabetes, obesity, repeated heavy lifting, chronic coughing, and chronic constipation. Sometimes pelvic organ prolapse can be caused simply by aging or genetic factors.