What is a prolapse?
A prolapse is when one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, urethra, uterus or bowel) sit lower in the pelvis than they are meant to. As with many conditions, the prolapse may be mild, moderate or severe. Many women with a mild prolapse will be unaware that they have one, and may not experience any problems from it. Other women will be aware of a bulging sensation in the vagina, particularly at the end of the day, after doing a lot of lifting, or with repeated coughing.
Symptoms may include:
- A sense of ‘something coming down’ or a ‘dragging feeling’
- Seeing or feeling a lump in the vagina
- Bladder problems including urinary incontinence
- Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels
- Lower back or pelvic pain
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
Why does prolapse happen?
The pelvic organs are supported from above by ligaments, and below by the pelvic floor muscles. If either of these structures are weakened, then one or more of these organs can sit lower in your pelvis.
Factors that may increase the likelihood of having a prolapse include weak pelvic floor muscles, repeated heavy lifting, chronic constipation, obesity, pregnancy and childbirth (especially if you had a long pushing phase of labour, baby over 4kg, an instrumental delivery or a large tear).