Although scientists believe about one-third of American women struggle with pelvic prolapse, many women suffer in silence due to the private nature of this uncomfortable condition. Knowing the signs of this common pelvic condition can make talking to your doctor less intimidating.
At Darin Swainston MD, FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, board-certified OB/GYN providers Dr. Darin Swainston and Dr. Daniel Richards understand how pelvic organ prolapse can negatively impact your life. Our team of experts works to alleviate your symptoms and put control back in your hands.
We also believe in the power of patient education, so our team has put together this informative guide explaining pelvic prolapse, outlining the most common signs, and exploring the different treatments available.
Understanding pelvic prolapse
Pelvic prolapse, commonly referred to as pelvic organ prolapse, occurs when the organs inside your pelvis (including the small intestine, uterus, rectum, and bladder) drop and push on the walls of your vagina.
The pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. These tissues surround your vagina and rectum, and the muscles and ligaments stretch from your pubic bone to your tailbone, providing support to the organs inside your pelvis.
Damage of the pelvic floor means a loss of support and commonly triggers pelvic prolapse. This type of damage occurs most frequently due to pregnancy and childbirth, weak connective tissue, obesity, different GI conditions, and specific illnesses or health conditions.
Not all forms of pelvic prolapse are the same, and you can develop different types based on the type of organ affected. Some of the most common forms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Uterine prolapse: Prolapse of the uterus
- Cystocele: Prolapse of the bladder
- Urethrocele: Prolapse of the urethra
- Vaginal vault prolapse: Prolapse of the vagina
- Enterocele: Prolapse of the small bowel
Some women also develop rectoceles, which occurs due to a prolapse of the rectum.
Five signs pelvic prolapse
While the symptoms of pelvic prolapse vary depending on the specific organs affected, there are some common signs to understand if you suspect prolapse. Here’s a closer look at five common signs of pelvic prolapse.
1. Feelings of pressure
Many women with pelvic prolapse describe feelings of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area. This sensation is caused by the weight of the prolapsing organ pressing down from its usual place into your pelvic cavity.
2. Urinary issues
Depending on which of your organs is prolapsing, you may experience different urinary issues. Some women describe feeling like they need to urinate more frequently than normal. Others find they leak urine unexpectedly. You may find you can’t empty your bladder completely, triggering urinary tract or bladder infections.
3. Low backache
When the prolapsed pelvic organs press against the nerves and bones in your pelvis, it can cause a chronic low backache. While back aches are common and not always related to pelvic prolapse, talk to Dr. Swainston or Dr. Richards if you have a new or a different backache, especially if you also have any other signs of pelvic prolapse.
4. Chronic constipation
Constipation can be both a sign and a cause of pelvic organ prolapse. When the organs usually supported by your pelvic floor prolapse, they can exert pressure on your rectum, causing chronic constipation. This condition can also cause you to strain during bowel movements. This can trigger prolapse or make existing pelvic prolapse worse.
5. Painful sexual intercourse
Pain during sex is a common sign of pelvic prolapse. How much pain you experience depends on the type of prolapse you have and how severe the prolapse. For some women, prolapse causes mild to moderate discomfort during intercourse, while for others, the condition makes sex unbearable.
Help for pelvic prolapse
Treatment of pelvic organ prolapse depends on how severe your symptoms are and the type of prolapse you’re experiencing. Dr. Swainston or Dr. Richards reviews your medical history and current symptoms to create a customized plan specific to your needs.
While early or mild cases of prolapse may respond well to conservative treatments, like Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, sometimes surgical interventions offer the best treatment.
The surgical experts at Darin Swainston MD, FACOG use robotic-assisted technologies to provide the best results using minimally invasive techniques, including:
- Uterosacral ligaments suspension
- Vaginal vault suspension
- Pelvic organ prolapse repair
These surgeries offer a success rate close to 100% and provide relief for the discomfort and pain associated with pelvic prolapse.
Learn more about pelvic prolapse by contacting the team at Darin Swainston MD, FACOG in Las Vegas. Reach our expert providers by calling 702-357-5741 or book an appointment online now.