Vaginal prolapse (also genitourinary prolapse) occurs when the ligaments and muscles that support the womb (uterus) and hold it in place, are weakened and are no longer effective. The causes of this condition include childbirth and previous surgery.
Whilst many women do not have pronounced symptoms that accompany vaginal prolapse, weakened supporting muscles can sometimes cause a noticeable bulge or lump in the vagina, as organs sag or protrude into the vaginal wall.
If left untreated, these organs may fall or protrude to a point that they prolapse (bulge or push into the vaginal area).
Symptoms to watch for include:
The best option is to prevent the prolapse in the first place. Performing pelvic floor exercises on a daily basis to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor is recommended. These can be done anywhere and at any time by simply tightening the pelvic floor muscles, as if trying to stop the urine flow.
A smoker’s cough is prone to make a woman more likely to develop a prolapse, as is being overweight.
Once the prolapse is established, it is much more difficult to control symptoms with exercises.
A physiotherapist will have the specialist knowledge and equipment to perform techniques aimed at stimulating and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, but often a medical device (a pessary) or surgery will become necessary.
Surgical repair is most commonly performed through the vagina. The type of repair is determined by the type of prolapse present, but the idea is that the weakened muscles of the pelvic floor are pulled together with stitches to make the pelvic floor stronger. A hysterectomy is sometimes necessary.
Repair operations are usually very successful in getting rid of the sensation of ‘something coming down below’.If incontinence of urine is a symptom, around two thirds of women will have complete control or be much improved after a prolapse repair involving the front wall of the vagina near the neck of the bladder.
If you have any of the above symptoms, or if you suspect that you have a vaginal prolapse it is important to talk to us now, get the treatment you need and help to improve your quality of life.