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The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse may include:
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
- Urinary flow changes or difficulties, including incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections
- Pain with intercourse
- Bulging in the vaginal area
- Difficulty with bowel movements
Pelvic prolapses are further classified by the specific organ that has shifted, the symptoms resulting and the treatment required.
Classifications of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Cystocele: When the bladder pushes into the vaginal canal
- Rectocele: When the rectum bulges into the lower part of the vagina
- Prolapsed uterus: When loss of ligament support causes the uterus to drop into the vaginal canal
- Apical prolapse: After hysterectomy, there is a “cuff” at the top of the vagina. This term refers to the protrusion of that cuff as the result of prolapse.
- Enterocele: When the small intestine protruding around the “cuff.”
How is pelvic organ prolapse treated?
Depending upon the type of prolapse and the severity of symptoms, a urologist may recommend one or a combination of treatments, including:
- Physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Medical devices, such as pessaries, which are placed inside the vagina to support weakened areas causing the prolapse
- Surgery to restore the vagina to its normal shape and function. One of the procedures most commonly used for this intervention is sacrocolpopexy. It may be
performed through a traditional abdominal incision or with a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique. With either, a specialized hernia mesh is sewn in to support the pelvic organs.
- Along with intervention—or to keep tissues from weakening further—these lifestyle changes will likely be recommended:
- Smoking cessation
- Treatment of conditions that strain the pelvic floor, including constipation
- Weight loss, if necessary
- Exercises to strength one’s core and pelvic floor