The pelvic muscles support the pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and cervix) like a hammock providing support and stability. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles supporting the pelvic organs become weak and loosen. As this happens, one or more of the pelvic organs may drop or completely press out of the vagina.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder that affects approximately 3% of women in the United States. It is most common following pregnancy and in women over the age of 70.
Pelvic organ prolapse is the result of weakened pelvic floor muscles. Common causes of weakened pelvic floor muscles include :
- Vaginal childbirth
- Giving birth to a child weighing more than 8.5 pounds
- Long history of straining during bowel movements
- Aging (most common in women over the age of 70)
- Hormonal changes during menopause
The pressure of the pelvic organs pushing down on the pelvic floor may cause discomfort and a visible bulge. Symptoms may worsen throughout the day or during physical activity. Common symptoms include:
- Feeling or seeing something pushing through the vagina
- Pressure or fullness in the pelvis
- Pelvic pressure that worsens when standing or coughing
To treat pelvic organ prolapse, your physician may recommend a bladder sling to support the pelvic floor. During surgery, either body tissue or a synthetic mesh will help repair prolapse and rebuild the pelvic floor support.