What Is a Vaginal Prolapse?
Vaginal prolapse, also known as pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, or bowels) drop or bulge into the vagina. It’s often associated with a weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor that hold up the organs and there can be stretching of the ligaments or connective tissue within the pelvis as well.
Vaginal prolapse is really common: around 50% of people who have a baby will have a prolapse. It can be caused by a vaginal birth or pregnancy itself, so people who have had a C-section can have a prolapse too.
Prolapse symptoms can include:
- Bulging, heaviness or dragging in the vagina
- Feeling something bulging in the vagina or at the entrance
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel, or feeling like it’s not fully empty afterwards
- Urinary or bowel incontinence (leaking of pee, poo or passing gas involuntarily)
- Less common symptoms are lower back pain, pain during sex, and increased discharge
Most instances of prolapse can be treated with pelvic floor exercises guided by a pelvic health physiotherapist for 12 weeks or more. The physiotherapist may recommend that you be fitted for a vaginal pessary which is a plastic or rubber device that goes inside your vagina to help hold up the pelvic organs. Lifestyle modifications are also important for prolapse recovery, such as changes to how you exercise, teaching you safe ways to lift, and management of constipation. Surgery can be a treatment option for those who need it too.