Prolapse or pelvic organ prolapse as it is sometimes called occurs when the pelvic organs descend from their normal positions and bulge into the vagina. These organs could be the bladder, the uterus or the rectum.

Causes of prolapse

Prolapse occurs as a result of the weakness of the muscles (pelvic floor) holding these organs and keeping them in place. Now the pelvic floor doesn’t just collapse over time; certain facts can increase your chances of developing pelvic organ prolapse. They include;

  • Childbirth; especially if a long, difficult birth is involved, or giving birth multiple times or perhaps giving birth to a large baby
  • Heavy lifting
  • Obesity
  • Advancements in age
  • Menopause
  • Certain gynaecological procedures like hysterectomy

Types of pelvic organ prolapse

There are 3 to 4 types of prolapse. They are dependent on the particular pelvic organ that is involved. They are;

1. Cystocele or anterior prolapse

This is a type of prolapse that occurs when the bladder drops and bulges into the front wall of the vagina. This is the most common form of prolapse.

2. Rectocele or posterior wall prolapse

This is when the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina

3. Uterine prolapse

This is when the womb bulges or drops into the vagina

4. Vault prolapse

This is when the top of the vagina sags down, and it usually happens to women who have surgically removed their wombs.

Symptoms of Pelvic organ prolapse

Depending on the severity of the prolapse, pelvic organ prolapse isn’t usually life-threatening. However, it can be quite discomforting and painful. The major symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include;

  • A feeling of a bulge or seeing a lump in your vagina
  • Pain, discomfort or numb feeling during sex
  • A feeling of heaviness around your lower abdomen or pelvis
  • Urinary problems; feeling of not emptying your bladder completely after urinating, or light urine leakage when you cough or sneeze.

Pelvic organ prolapse treatment

Once you notice discomfort or the feeling of a lump or bulge in your vagina, it is best to notify your gynaecologist. Negligence of these symptoms can cause you to suffer more serious health issues in the nearby future. Especially in anterior prolapse, where there is retention of some urine after urinating, it can cause urinary tract infection (UTI).

Before the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, there are issues to be considered by both the doctor and the patient. They are;

  • The severity of the prolapse
  • The severity of the symptoms
  • Your decision regarding childbirth in the future
  • Your age
  • Your health

These set the basis for the type of treatment to be administered to you. You also have the option of choosing the type of treatment you want. These options range from surgery to hormone treatment, vaginal pessaries and lifestyle changes. They are of course dependent on the issues mentioned above.


This becomes an option when non-surgical options did not work or when the prolapse is severe. There are about 3 different types of surgery you could do; you might want to discuss them first with your doctor.

  • Hysterectomy: this is the complete removal of the womb, and is usually for women with prolapsed womb, who might have been through menopause or might not want to bear children anymore
  • Vaginal closure: this is offered to women who have advanced prolapse and do not plan to have sexual intercourse anymore. It is the partial or total closing of the vagina.
  • Surgical repair: this involves lifting or supporting the pelvic organs by means of stitching them into place or supporting the existing tissues.

There could be side effects to any of the surgical procedures like bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding organs and several others but you should see your doctor immediately you notice these symptoms

  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Abnormal vaginal infection
  • Burning sensation when urinating


This treatment is usually administered for mild prolapse and for women who have experienced menopause. It is usually administered by your doctor as an oestrogen hormone to ease your symptoms. It could be in the form of cream or a tablet which you apply and insert into your vagina respectively.


This option is considered by those who would not like to have surgery or still want to bear children in future. It is also used to treat severe or moderate prolapse. It consists of a rubber device, that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs and vaginal walls. It comes in different sizes and shapes and may need to be removed to be cleaned and replaced regularly.

It can have side effects like

-Urinary tract infection

-Irritation and sores inside the vagina

-Smelling vaginal discharge


Maintaining a healthy diet, losing weight if you are obese, eating healthy diets, avoiding heavy lifting/smoking, and doing pelvic floor exercises can ease your symptoms and reduce your risk of getting a prolapse.

Prevention of pelvic organ prolapse

Loose weight if you are overweight, stop smoking and protect your pelvic floor by tightening the pelvic floor muscles when doing heavy lifting.