Your reproductive organs are held in place by your pelvic floor, as well as by each other. If these support systems weaken, certain organs can shift out of place and follow gravity downward into, and sometimes out of, your vaginal canal.
One of these pelvic organs is your vagina itself, which can collapse into itself in a condition we call vaginal prolapse, also known as vaginal vault prolapse.
At Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Fernando Otero and our team have considerable experience helping our patients who have developed pelvic organ prolapse, including vaginal vault prolapse.
Recognizing the symptoms of vaginal prolapse early on can make a big difference in how we can treat the condition, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to focus on vaginal vault prolapse here.
The numbers surrounding pelvic organ prolapse (POP) are tough to pin down, but The Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support reports that, on a global scale, the condition affects 35-50% of women. These numbers reflect prolapse of several different organs, including the bladder, intestines, rectum, uterus, and vagina.
As we described in the introduction of this blog post, pelvic organ prolapse occurs when certain support systems weaken.
The organs that are housed in your pelvis are largely held in place by your pelvic floor, which is a band of muscles called the pubococcygeus muscles that form a type of hammock underneath your pelvic organs.
In addition to these muscles, your pelvic organs also rely on certain ligaments, as well as each other, to maintain their positions.
There are several conditions or events that can weaken these support systems, which include:
When you experience vaginal prolapse, it’s due to a loss of support at the upper end of your vaginal canal, which allows the top part to collapse into the canal.
Vaginal prolapse is often progressive, and you might not feel any symptoms at first. As the top of your vagina falls further into your vaginal canal, you may experience:
In advanced prolapse, you can see the tissue protruding from your vaginal opening.
It’s also worth remembering that your reproductive organs rely on each other for support, so when your vagina prolapses, it can cause other organs to malfunction or prolapse, such as your bladder or rectum. The secondary symptoms that come with these changes often affect your bladder and bowel functions.
When it comes to treating vaginal prolapse, our recommendations depend on the severity of the prolapse and your symptoms. For example, during the earlier stages of vaginal prolapse, targeted exercises (Kegels) can go a long way toward re-establishing support.
If these exercises don’t improve the condition, we can insert a pessary to hold up your vaginal walls.
In more advanced cases of vaginal prolapse, we may recommend a surgical solution. As one of the leading experts in pelvic organ prolapse surgery in the area, our own Dr. Ortero has extensive experience with this type of surgery and uses minimally invasive surgical techniques whenever possible.
If you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with vaginal prolapse, a quick visit to one of our two offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, is a very good idea. To schedule your appointment, simply click here.