Many of us will not have heard the term prolapse until we experience a problem. But what exactly is a prolapse? And why are so many of us at risk?
The primary cause of prolapse is weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for supporting each of the pelvic organs so, when they are no longer strong enough to carry out this job effectively, it can result in one or more of the organs sagging, or dropping down, into the vagina, uterus, bladder or rectum.
There are various different types and stages which represent the prolapse severity. For some of us, the symptoms will be so mild that we won't even visit our doctor. However, even where this is the case, it can still significantly impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing.
What are the different types of prolapse?
If you think about it, our pelvic cavity is home to a number of extremely important organs, all of which are at risk of falling out of place. When this happens, it can affect the anterior (front) or posterior (back) wall of the vagina, and in some cases the central part of the pelvis.
Different types of pelvic organ prolapse include:
Bladder prolapse - A bladder prolapse is the drooping of the bladder into the front, anterior wall, of the vagina. As such, it can only occur in women. The three main types of bladder prolapse are cystocele, urethrocele and cystourethrocele.
Vaginal prolapse - A vaginal prolapse is when the vagina itself, falls out of its normal position. It can droop down until it protrudes from the body. It is often followed by further pelvic organ prolapses.
Rectal Prolapse - A rectal prolapse can occur in men and women of all ages. It is the name for the prolapse where the rectum, and rectal tissue, droops and protrudes through the anus.
Rectocele - Similarly to a rectal prolapse, a rectocele involves the weakening of the rectum and rectal tissue. A rectocele, however, can only occur in women as is in this condition the rectum bulges into the vagina
Uterine prolapse - A uterine prolapse is the name for when the uterus weakens and bulges into the vaginal space, and in later stages protrudes outside the vagina. It is commonly followed by cystocele and rectocele prolapses due to the loss of support the uterus naturally provides.
Cystocele - A type of bladder prolapse, a cystocele is the prolapse of the bladder into the front, anterior wall, of the vagina. It is the most prevalent form of prolapse.
Urethrocele - A type of bladder prolapse, a urethrocele is the prolapse of the urethra (tube that takes urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) into the vagina.
Cystourethrocele - Both the urethra and bladder prolapse at the same time. It is quite common for this to happen.
Vaginal Vault - This only occurs in women who have undergone a hysterectomy. The closed end of the vagina collapses in on itself, dropping down into the vaginal canal or outside the vagina.
Enterocele - The small bowel drops against and moves the upper wall of the vagina, causing it to descend into the gap between the rectum and the vagina.
Perineal Descent - Descending perineum syndrome is when the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum/vulva) bulges down and prolapses below the bony outlet of the pelvis.
What causes prolapse?
It's the age-old question: "Why me?"
You've taken good care of yourself over the years, maintaining a healthy diet and doing the obligatory 30 minutes of exercise daily. So why are you still at risk of developing prolapse?
Well, you may be surprised to learn that this alone is not enough to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and healthy. When they are weak, they are unable to support the pelvic organs effectively.
This may occur for a number of different reasons, including:
Increased pressure in the abdomen
Coughs, constipation, weight
Such as hysterectomy
What are the symptoms of prolapse?
Have things been becoming a bit of a drag recently? Or are you simply losing your sense of humour when it comes to those laughter leaks?
Well, there really is nothing funny about prolapse, and it's entirely possible that you could have suffered one without even realising.
Prolapse symptoms vary depending upon the stage it is at, however, common indications include:
A 'dragging' sensation in the vagina or lower back
Pelvic and/or abdominal pain
A lump inside or outside the vagina
Struggling to empty the bowel
Dyspareunia (painful sex) or lack of intimate sensation
Urinary abnormalities such as a slow stream, incomplete emptying of your bladder, urinary frequency/urgency or stress incontinence
Scarily, it is estimated that 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will suffer with some form of prolapse.
Find out about prolapse treatment here.
An Ideal Solution
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Original article: Kegel Website