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What is vaginal prolapse?

Vaginal prolapse is what happens when organs inside the pelvis fall, bulge or protrude into the vaginal wall. This condition is due to weakened muscles or ligaments that can occur from a number of causes, including childbirth, previous surgeries and obesity. If you have signs and symptoms of vaginal prolapse, learning more about this condition (and discovering you have options!) can lead to a better way of life.

Understanding vaginal prolapse

There are a number of muscles, ligaments and other tissues that elevate and support the pelvic area. They provide support for pelvic organs, including the uterus, urethra, bladder and rectum.

Vaginal prolapse happens when pelvic organs, including the bladder or rectum, bulge into the vaginal wall due to a weakening of important muscles and supporting ligaments. If left untreated, these organs may fall or protrude to a point that they prolapse (bulge or push into) the vaginal area. In extreme cases, the vagina can even fall to the point where it extends outside the body.

Healthy pelvic area before prolapse Vaginal Prolapse (VP)
Healthy pelvic area before prolapse Vaginal Prolapse (VP)

The bladder, vagina and rectum are normally well-supported by pelvic muscles and ligaments.

Vaginal prolapse occurs when weakened muscles or ligaments allow the pelvic organs to descend into the vaginal wall, causing discomfort and other symptoms.


Types of vaginal prolapse

Vaginal prolapse is a term that refers to a prolapse in the pelvic area. However, there are several specific types of prolapse that contribute to the overall condition of vaginal prolapse. It’s helpful to know about each type, since many women may experience more than one.

Vaginal vault prolapse

Vaginal vault prolapse
The apex, or upper portion of the vagina, collapses and descends into the vaginal canal. This sometimes occurs after a hysterectomy, causing the vagina to turn inside out.

Vaginal Vault
For women who have had a hysterectomy the normal support from the uterus is no longer in place and prolapse can occur when the top portion of the vagina descends down into the lower vagina.



 

Bladder prolapse

Bladder prolapse
Cystocele (pronounced “sist-uh-seal”) – The bladder bulges or “herniates” into the vaginal wall.

 

Rectal prolapse

Rectal prolapse
Rectocele (pronounced “rekto-seal”) – The rectum bulges (herniates) into the vagina.



 

Uterine prolapse

Uterine prolapse
Procidentia (pronounced “pro-sid-entsha”) – The uterus falls into the vagina. When the muscles and ligaments of a woman are weakened, and the woman still has a uterus, prolapse can occur when the uterus descends into the vagina.


Small bowel prolapse

Small bowel prolapse
Enterocele (pronounced “enter-o-seal”) – The small bowel bulges (herniates) into the vagina

 

Enterocele
Enterocele occurs when the intestine bulges into the vagina. Enteroceles can occur from the front, back or top. This illustration shows an enterocele from the back.

Content from solutionsforvaginalprolapse.com

To learn more about our vaginal prolapse services or to schedule an appointment, please call our main office at (404) 255-3633. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form. Our vaginal prolapse patients come to us from the area of Buckhead in Atlanta, North Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Roswell, Forsyth and Cumming in Fulton County, GA.