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
The bladder, vagina and rectum are normally well-supported by pelvic muscles and ligaments.
Vaginal Prolapse (VP)
Vaginal prolapse occurs when weakened muscles or ligaments allow the
pelvic organs to descend into the vaginal wall, causing discomfort and
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. Types of vaginal 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.
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.
Cystocele (pronounced “sist-uh-seal”) – The bladder bulges or “herniates” into the vaginal wall.
Rectocele (pronounced “rekto-seal”) – The rectum bulges (herniates) into the vagina.
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
Enterocele (pronounced “enter-o-seal”) – The small bowel bulges (herniates) into the vagina
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.
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