What is pelvic organ prolapse?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that keep the pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, small bowel, and rectum. As women age, these muscles are no longer as strong, and pelvic organ prolapse may occur. This means that the organs begin to droop, which causes these organs not to function correctly. The term "prolapse" refers to the drooping or falling of organs.

What causes pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse and other pelvic organ disorders are caused by pressure onto the abdomen, such as pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, constant coughing, constipation or pelvic organ cancers, and the general weakening of muscles due to ageing. As the muscles lose strength, pelvic floor disorders impair the functioning of these organs. Genetics may place some women at a higher risk of developing this condition.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include those related to higher levels of androgen in women, such as:

  • Lack of fullness in the pelvic area
  • Lower back pain
  • The sensation that something is falling out of the vagina
  • Painful intercourse
  • Issues when urinating
  • Reoccurring urinary tract infections
  • Spotting
  • Constipation

What are the treatment options?

Because this condition is related to several conditions such as dropping or prolapse of the bladder into the vagina (cystocele), uterine prolapse, prolapse of the small bowel (enterocele) or rectum (rectocele) as well as urinary and anal incontinence, treatment is often sought. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition but may include:

  • Behavioural therapy such as Kegel exercises can be used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Insertion of pessary devices into the vagina to provide support for drooping pelvic organs
  • Surgery may also be considered to repair drooping organs that have prolapsed
  • A hysterectomy may also be considered as treatment
1Is pelvic organ prolapse life-threatening?

Although a prolapse is rarely life-threatening, it can be painful and inconvenient.

2How fast does pelvic organ prolapse develop?

Pelvic organ prolapse, like a hernia, can develop suddenly or develop slowly over time.

3What happens if you don't treat pelvic organ prolapse?

If the prolapse is left untreated, it may remain the same or worsen over time. Severe prolapse might induce renal blockage or urine retention in rare situations.