There are many different types of prolapse, including uterine, bladder and bowel prolapse. Causes of prolapse, symptoms, tests used to diagnose prolapse, and management and treatment of prolapse are discussed. Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments and muscles that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to drop down.
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Some women with a pelvic organ prolapse don't have any symptoms and the condition is only discovered during an internal examination for another reason, such as a cervical screening. See your GP if you have any of the symptoms of a prolapse, or if you notice a lump in or around your vagina. Your doctor will need to carry out an internal pelvic examination.
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The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that stretches like a hammock from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis to the base of the spine in the back. These muscles support the weight of the pelvic organs and enable everyday activities like walking and sitting. Ligaments within the pelvis hold the organs in place.
Pelvic relaxation is weakness or laxity in the supporting structures of the pelvic region. Bladder, urethral, rectal, or uterine tissue may then bulge into or out of the vagina. This is called pelvic organ prolapse.
The uterus and the bladder are held in their normal positions just above the inside end of the vagina by a "hammock" made up of supportive muscles and ligaments. Wear and tear on these supportive structures in the pelvis can allow the bottom of the uterus, the floor of the bladder or both to sag through the muscle and ligament layers. When this occurs, the uterus or bladder can create a bulge into the vagina.
The organs of the pelvis — the area of the body between the hip bones — include the vagina, cervix, uterus, bladder, urethra, intestines, and rectum. These organs are held in place by a group of muscles and other tissue. When this support system becomes stretched or torn, it allows pelvic organs to slip out of their normal places or sag down prolapse.
Back to Health A to Z. Pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. A prolapse isn't life-threatening, but it can cause pain and discomfort. Symptoms can usually be improved with pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes, but sometimes medical treatment is needed.