A woman has several pelvic organs, such as the rectum, intestines, uterus, and bladder. If one of those organs were to drop into her vagina, it would be a condition known as vaginal prolapse. Some doctors may refer to it as a pelvic organ prolapse or dropped bladder, but it is the same thing.
Some cases of vaginal prolapse are more severe than others. Your primary care doctor or urologist is best qualified to evaluate the severity of the protrusion. A severe prolapse would usually be a round red vaginal protrusion.
Why Do Vaginal Prolapses Occur?
A vaginal prolapse occurs when the pelvic muscles weaken and can no longer support and secure the pelvic organs. For example, a woman may experience a vaginal prolapse after childbirth because of the strain on her pelvic muscles from the labor and delivery.
Some doctors believe performing a cesarean section on a pregnant woman rather than allowing natural childbirth would reduce her risk of prolapse. However, other health risks are involved in performing cesarean sections, so the doctor should discuss those risks as they relate to vaginal health and overall well being.
Aside from that, a woman may develop a vaginal prolapse from lifting something heavy or just natural aging. Women cannot do anything about aging, but avoiding heavy lifting is recommended to reduce the likelihood of having a vaginal prolapse. Kegel strength exercises can also be done to strengthen pelvic muscles and lower the risk of prolapse.
Vaginal Prolapse Symptoms
A vaginal prolapse initially causes a woman to feel lower abdominal, rectal, or vaginal pressure. It is similar to the feeling of sitting on top of a ball. But if the condition progresses, a visible protrusion from the vagina will be noticeable. Sometimes it bleeds or discharges too.
The worst-case scenario is difficulty urinating, where you must strain yourself to release just a little urine. There likely wouldn’t be a feeling of emptiness coming from the bladder either.
Vagina Prolapse Long-Term Health Risks
The biggest health problems which could arise from vaginal prolapse include kidney blockage, kidney failure, constipation, incontinence, and urethra blockage. The worst conditions which may require surgery are kidney blockage and urethra blockage. That is why it’s best to get a physical or urologic examination from your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms present. Then you can receive the appropriate treatment before the condition worsens.
Vaginal Prolapse Treatments
Your doctor may first recommend inserting a plastic donut-shaped “pessary” device into your vagina. It is similar to a tampon insertion, except the pessary secures your organs and prevents them from dropping. You should feel fast relief in your bladder after the device is inserted.
The pessary will be customized to fit the shape and size of your vagina. It is generally safe for women, except for the risk of causing a bladder infection. For this reason, regular checkups with your doctor are essential for ensuring infection or inflammation doesn’t exist in your bladder. Since the pessary is a lifetime treatment, regular checkups must continue indefinitely.
Make an appointment to see your doctor about three months after the initial insertion of the device. It is the best way to see if your bladder and vaginal walls are responding well to it. Some women may not notice any benefits from pessaries, while others may see tremendous benefits.
There is no perfect fitting of a pessary. After the doctor performs the physical examination, they will attempt to insert a pessary to see if it feels okay for you. They may advise you to utilize the pessary only if necessary, such as when exercising.
If you are one of the few unfortunate women who don’t have success with a pessary device, the only other treatment alternative for securing your pelvic organs is prolapse surgery.
The surgeon usually performs the surgery through the vagina or abdomen and uses mesh or natural tissue to repair the protrusion. But if you have a prolapsed uterus, the surgeon will also have to perform a hysterectomy. In addition, incontinence treatment may be required too.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor is the best person to counsel you on which treatment is best for your vaginal prolapse condition. They will discuss the pros and cons of pessary and surgery treatments so that you can make an informed decision.