Causes and Risk Factors of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

This condition primarily arises when the pelvic floor muscles and tissues, which normally support these organs, become weakened. Factors that increase this risk include:

  • Multiple pregnancies and childbirths through vaginal delivery.
  • Advanced age.
  • Persistent coughing.
  • Regular constipation.
  • Obesity.
  • Lifting heavy objects or engaging in high-impact pelvic exercises.

Stages of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse is categorized into four stages based on the severity:

  1. Stage 1: Organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum descend halfway into the vagina.
  2. Stage 2:Organs drop lower than halfway but not outside the vagina.
  3. Stage 3: Organs partially protrude out of the vagina.
  4. Stage 4: Complete descent of organs out of the vagina.

Symptoms to Watch For

Those affected may experience:

  • Pelvic or genital discomfort and pressure.
  • Back or lower abdominal pain.
  • Vaginal discharge, particularly in premenopausal women.
  • Urinary issues, such as incontinence, slow urine flow, or frequent urination.
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • Painful protrusion of tissue at the vaginal entrance.
  • Discomfort during sexual activities.

Possible Complications

Complications can include:

  • Difficulty in urination or complete inability to empty the bladder.
  • Urinary leakage during physical activities like coughing.
  • External tissue causing friction and injury.

Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Diagnosis involves assessing medical history, symptom evaluation, physical examination, and an internal vaginal exam.

Treatment and Prevention Strategies

Managing Mild Cases

For less severe cases, pelvic floor exercises are recommended. These involve contracting and holding the pelvic muscles, similar to stopping urine flow. This should be done in sets throughout the day.

Non-Surgical Interventions

A vaginal pessary, a rubber, donut-shaped device, may be temporarily used to reposition pelvic organs. This requires regular cleaning and removal before sexual intercourse.

Surgical Options

In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to correct prolapse or address associated conditions like urinary incontinence. Your doctor will discuss the various surgical options, their risks, and benefits to find the most suitable approach.

Preventive Measures

To prevent pelvic organ prolapse:

  • Regularly perform pelvic floor exercises, especially around childbirth.
  • Avoid constipation to reduce strain on pelvic muscles.
  • Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
  • Quit smoking to prevent chronic coughing.
  • Limit heavy lifting.
  • Consult with your doctor about hormone replacement therapy during menopause, understanding its risks and benefits.
  • Consider family planning to limit the number of pregnancies and childbirths.