Definitive numbers on the prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse are tricky, but researchers estimate that 50% of women experience some degree of prolapse. One of the problems in identifying the condition is that there are several different types of pelvic organ prolapse.
To shed some light on the problem, the team here at the Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, under the leadership of Dr. Fernando Otero, pulled together a quick review of the many pelvic organs that can shift out of place. Rest assured, while the problem may sound serious, there are solutions, and we offer them here.
Pelvic organ prolapse at a glance
Before we dive into the different types of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), let’s quickly review how the problem develops. At the base of your abdominal cavity is a group of muscles called the pubococcygeus muscles, also known as the pelvic floor. These muscles form a type of hammock that supports the many organs that are located in your pelvis.
When your pelvic floor weakens or is damaged, it can cause organs in your pelvis to shift out of place, usually downward and into your vaginal canal.
Now that we better understand how POP develops, let’s take a look at the organs this problem can impact.
This type of prolapse is by far the most common and occurs when your bladder shifts downward into your vagina. Bladder prolapse often leads to problems with urinary incontinence.
2. Uterine prolapse (uterus)
As the name implies, uterine prolapse occurs when your uterus migrates into your vaginal canal and sometimes even protrudes outside it.
3. Enterocele (small intestine)
If your small intestine descends, it can push into the top part of your vagina.
4. Urethrocele (urethra)
This form of prolapse occurs when your urethra (the tube that transports urine from your bladder) protrudes into your vagina.
5. Rectocele (rectum)
With a rectocele, the front part of your rectum pushes through your rectovaginal septum, which is the thin tissue that separates your rectum from your vagina.
6. Vaginal vault prolapse (top of vagina)
If the structural support at the top of your vagina weakens, this portion can slide down into your lower vaginal canal and even protrude outside your vagina.
Treating pelvic organ prolapse
There are many ways we can go about treating your pelvic organ prolapse, and the best method depends on the organ and the severity of its prolapse. In some cases, strengthening your pelvic floor can go a long way toward restoring support.
If the problem doesn’t respond to these efforts, we can use a pessary to hold your organ in place. In more serious cases, we can turn to a quick surgical procedure to restore your pelvic organs to their proper positions.
If you’d like to learn more about your treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse, contact one of our two offices in McAllen and Edinburg, Texas, to set up a consultation.