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What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The pelvic floor is a set of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that form a hammock or sling around the base of the female pelvis. The pelvic organs, such as the womb (uterus), rectum, and bladder, are held in position by the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding tissues. When the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue that support the pelvic organs are weakened, resulting in descent and even protrusion of the bladder, urethra, cervix, and rectum. This is called pelvic organ prolapse.

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Women with pelvic organ prolapse will experience excessive pressure on the lower pelvis associated with a bulging or pressure/aching sensation, difficulty in urination and/or defecation, urinary urgency and incontinence and urinary tract infections.

Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Your doctor will diagnose the condition by performing a history and physical examination, and additional testing including a

  • Detailed pelvic examination measuring support of the different organs
  • Urinalysis and measuring post-void residual
  • Tests such as urodynamics and cystoscopy
  • Ultrasound scan of the bladder and/or pelvis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pelvic organs

Treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

If the symptoms are mild, non-surgical treatment options such as pelvic floor exercises, vaginal pessaries (a device that is inserted in the vagina to support the pelvic floor), and lifestyle changes may be helpful.

Surgery can be considered in patients with more troublesome symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. There are different types of procedures to address a specific type of prolapse. The aim of pelvic floor reconstruction is to restore the normal anatomy and function of the pelvic organs.