Gynaecology

Vaginal Prolapse

Vaginal prolapse occurs when the vagina drops lower down than it structurally should.

Vaginal prolapse occurs when the vagina drops lower down than it structurally should. When this happens other organs can be pulled down, perhaps causing them to protrude from the vaginal opening. Organs that may be impacted are the cervix, the uterus, the bladder, the rectum, or the intestines. Other types of prolapse are when the bladder or bowel bulges into the wall of the vagina.

What are the main symptoms?

  • Painful intercourse
  • Problems passing urine
  • Stress incontinence (i.e. leaking a small amount of urine when they cough, sneeze or exercise)
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Lower back pain
  • A new, unusual lump in or around the vagina

What causes it?

Vaginal prolapse occurs when the tissues supporting the pelvic organs become weak. This lack of support causes one or more of the structures to bulge and fall out of their normal positions. This can be caused by:

  • Age
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Fibroids or pelvic cysts
  • Stress incontinence
  • Previous pelvic surgery
  • Heavy lifting and manual work
  • Long-term constipation
  • Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

How can I reduce the risk?

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Performing regular pelvic floor exercises
  • Eating a high fibre diet
  • Avoiding heavy lifting
  • Not smoking

How is it diagnosed?

The woman will usually come forward with her symptoms, often having felt something unusual protruding from between her legs. Alternatively, it may be diagnosed at a routine gynaecological examination.

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