Your pelvis contains several important organs, including your bladder, vagina, rectum, urethra, and uterus. A group of muscles known as the pelvic floor muscles hold these organs in place.
When your pelvic floor muscles and the tissues connecting them can’t adequately support your pelvic organs, a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse may occur. (Prolapse means “to slip down.”) If this happens, one or more of your pelvic organs may move down into a part of your pelvic region where they don’t belong.
To better understand pelvic organ prolapse, think of your pelvic muscles as a hammock that holds your organs in place. When the muscles and tissues that make up the hammock become weak, the organs may spill out.
Are you likely to develop pelvic organ prolapse? Maybe, especially if you have any of the following risk factors.
Pregnancy and delivery can stretch or strain the muscles in your pelvic floor. Although vaginal birth is more likely to be linked with pelvic organ prolapse than a C-section, both can weaken your pelvic muscles.
Having a baby who weighs over 8.5 pounds can be especially stressful to your pelvic muscles.
Scarring can make pelvic muscles less resilient.
As you get older, your muscles can lose some of their strength and elasticity. In addition, the hormonal changes of menopause may impact pelvic floor muscles. Although women of any age can develop pelvic organ prolapse, it is most common after menopause.
Excess body weight and excess fat in the abdominal and pelvic area can put pressure on pelvic floor muscles.
Conditions such as chronic coughing or chronic constipation can stress your pelvic floor muscles and cause them to weaken over time.
If you have an elevated risk for pelvic organ prolapse, pay attention to your body and tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual. Pelvic organ prolapse can cause one of more of the following signs and symptoms:
Mild cases of pelvic organ prolapse may improve with Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. To do a Kegel, you squeeze the muscles you use to stop urine from flowing.
In addition, a silicone device known as a pessary can be inserted into your vagina to support prolapsed organs.
If pelvic organ prolapse is more serious, you may need surgery.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, our team of care providers at Virtuosa GYN in San Antonio, Texas, can help. We are experts at diagnosing and treating this common women’s health condition. Call us to schedule a consultation.