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Types of Prolapses: What You Need to Know

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where one or more of your pelvic organs drop from their normal position, usually resulting from a weakened pelvic floor (the muscles that support the pelvic organs). And as unpleasant as it sounds, it’s more common than you might think. Research indicates that 35%-50% of women experience some type of pelvic organ prolapse. This can be due to a number of conditions, and symptoms can be scary and embarrassing. Let’s explore what you should know about the types of pelvic organ prolapse, and what can be done to help.

Dr. Neeraj Kohli and Boston Urogyn have years of experience helping patients with prolapses and other pelvic needs. Types of prolapse include:

Vaginal vault prolapse

This is a condition where the upper walls of the vagina lose their normal shape, resulting in a collapse into the vaginal canal or lower. This generally occurs when the muscles and tissues of the vagina and pelvis weaken, and can happen after hysterectomy surgery or as a complication from other types of prolapse.

Uterine prolapse

When the pelvic muscles and ligaments stretch beyond the ability to support the uterus, a uterine prolapse is likely. This causes the uterus to descend out of the vagina. This can happen as a result of complications from pregnancy (trauma during childbirth or delivering a large baby, for example) as well as chronic constipation, obesity, and repeated heavy lifting.

Bladder prolapse

Also known as an anterior or cystocele prolapse, this is what happens when the supportive tissue of the bladder and vaginal wall weakens and bulges. The result is the bladder lowering into the vagina. Many of the same issues that cause a uterine prolapse can also cause this condition.

Rectocele prolapse

A posterior vaginal (or rectocele) prolapse occurs when the thin wall of tissue that separates the rectum and vagina weakens, causing the vaginal wall to bulge and descend. As with the other types of prolapse, obesity, complications from childbirth, heavy lifting, and constipation are all common factors that contribute to this condition.

Enterocele prolapse

This condition happens when the lower intestine descends into the lower pelvic cavity and pushes at the top of the vagina. The resulting bulge is the result of most of the common issues with other prolapses.

Preventing or treating a prolapse

Typically, with most types of prolapse, you can expect to experience pelvic fullness or pressure, lower back pain that eases when you lie down, and vaginal discomfort. Age, race, increased abdominal pressure, and family history of connective tissue weaknesses can also increase the chances of any of these conditions. 

To reduce the chances of a prolapse, you can do the following:

Different treatments are available depending on the severity of your condition. Pessaries (silicone devices that hold the organs in place), medications, and physical therapies such as Kegel exercises are examples of nonsurgical solutions, but surgery is available for all forms of prolapse.

If you think you may be experiencing any type of pelvic organ prolapse, make an appointment at one of our four locations in the Boston, Massachusetts, area to get help.

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