Types of Prolapse

  1. Vaginal Vault Prolapse

    What is a Vaginal Vault Prolapse?

    A vaginal vault prolapse is the name for a condition experienced in women when the top part of the vaginal wall loses its strength, and begins to droop downwards. As the top of the vagina descends, it prolapses (bulges) into the vaginal canal and can even become visible from the outside of the vagina. A vaginal vault prolapse occurs as a result of weak pelvic floor muscles.

    A vaginal vault prolapse can occur on its own. However, 72% of women suffer one or more other pelvic organ prolapses at the same time as a vaginal vault prolapse due to the loss of support that the vagina normally gives.

    A vaginal vault prolapse is common in women who have undergone hysterectomy surgery to completely remove the uterus. The uterus usually sits above the vagina, linked by a piece of tissue called the cervix. If it is removed there is no longer anything there to anchor the...

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  2. Vaginal Prolapse

    What Is a Vaginal or Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)?

    Muscles, ligaments and skin, in and around the vagina, support and hold the female pelvic organs and tissues in place by acting as a hammock. However, pregnancy, childbirth, ageing, and the menopause, all contribute to the stretching and weakening of these pelvic floor muscles. The result can be a vaginal prolapse - where the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, or even the vagina itself, fall out of their normal position. As a vaginal prolapse usually involves the vagina, plus another organ, it is often referred to as a Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).

    Around 40% of us will be affected by a vaginal prolapse by the time we reach our 60's, and this figure rises to 50% of us over 50. Although not life-threatening, it can cause severe pain and discomfort, especially...

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  3. Uterine Prolapse

    What Is a Uterine Prolapse?

    A uterine prolapse is a type of pelvic organ prolapse that can occur only in women.

    The uterus is a muscular ‘sac’ which stretches and bends with the demands of pregnancy and childbirth. It sits inside the pelvic cavity and is held in place by a combination of the other organs in the pelvis and the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak they loosen and stretch out of place, no longer acting as support for the pelvic organs. In the case of a uterine prolapse, this can allow the uterus to droop and bulge into the vaginal space as an incomplete uterine prolapse. If untreated, the uterus can drop so low that it uncomfortably, and often painfully, protrudes outside the vagina as a complete uterine prolapse, also known as procidentia.

    As with most medical problems, it’s important not to put off treatment. Allowing...

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  4. Urethrocele Prolapse?

    What Is a Urethrocele Prolapse?

    The urethra is the tube that takes urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. It is part of the group of organs that make up the female pelvic area. These organs are held in place by strong pelvic floor muscles. As these muscles weaken, due to menopause, pregnancy and ageing (among other factors), each organ is at risk of prolapsing and dropping down into the pelvic cavity. If this happens to the urethra, it’s called a urethrocele prolapse. During a urethrocele the urethra widens and begins to curve downwards and press into the vaginal wall. This usually results in further pelvic organ prolapses, causing a noticeable and often painful bulge.

    A urethrocele prolapse can be disruptive, embarrassing and inconvenient, but it is treatable.

    As with most medical problems, it’s important not to put off treatment. Allowing your prolapse to go untreated...

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  5. Rectocele Prolapse

    What Is a Rectocele Prolapse?

    The rectum is at the very end of the digestive system, where faeces collects before it is expelled from the body through the anus. It is normally separated from the vagina by a wall of thick, strong muscle. A rectocele prolapse is a type of pelvic organ prolapse, occurring on the back posterior wall of the vagina, where the rectal wall pushes against the vaginal wall, creating a bulge which can eventually tear into the vagina.

    Rectocele prolapses are most common in women aged over 60 years old that have had multiple children. This is in part due to the menopause contributing to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles as the levels of the hormone oestrogen fall, and the extra weight pregnancy puts on the pelvic floor muscles causing long lasting damage.

    As with most medical problems, it’s important not to put off treatment. Allowing your prolapse to go untreated for a long period of time leads to weakened pelvic muscles and...

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  6. Rectal Prolapse

    What Is a Rectal Prolapse?

    A rectal prolapse occurs when the connective tissues within the rectal passage loosen and stretch, until they protrude through the anus. As the rectum becomes more prolapsed, ligaments and muscles may weaken until the rectum completely and permanently protrudes out of the body through the anus. This stage is called a complete prolapse, or a full-thickness rectal prolapse. Initially, the rectum may protrude and retract depending on your movements and activities. If the condition remains untreated it may protrude permanently.

    The rectum is the final part of the digestive system, which sits just before the anus. It’s the area that holds faeces before you pass a bowel movement. It is made up of rectal wall lining (the mucosa), a layer of strong muscle, and some fatty tissue.

    Although rectal prolapses are most common in older women (six times more likely to occur in women over 50 years old than in men of the same age), a rectal...

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  7. Perineal Descent

    What is Perineal Descent?

    Descending perineum syndrome is when the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum/vulva) bulges down and prolapses below the bony outlet of the pelvis. It’s a pelvic floor disorder, which can often occur alongside other types of prolapse. It’s also known as ‘perineal bulging’ or ‘perineal relaxation’.

    What are the Symptoms of Perineal Descent?

    Symptoms of descending perineum syndrome include:

    • The need to press up on the perineum to help with bowel movements
    • The feeling of the pelvis dropping during weighted activity
    • Bowel and/or faecal incontinence
    • Perineal descent is also often present in conjunction with pelvic organ prolapse.

    What Causes Perineal Descent?

    One of the main causes is thought to be excessive and repetitive straining. Straining forces the anterior...

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  8. Enterocele Prolapse

    What Is an Enterocele Prolapse?

    An enterocele prolapse occurs when the small bowel (also known as the small intestine) drops down sufficiently enough against the upper wall of the vagina to create a bulge in the vagina. It can slip further, between the rectum and vagina, resulting in discomfort along the back posterior wall of the vagina and causing issues with bowel movements.

    The muscles and ligaments that support your small bowel, and other organs within the pelvis, are part of the framework of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can become weak or stretched and therefore become unable to hold everything in the pelvis where it should be. This can result in the small bowel dropping out of its normal position and down into the gap between the muscular walls of the rectum and the vagina.

    A enterocele prolapse can be disruptive, embarrassing and inconvenient...

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  9. Cystocele Prolapse

    What Is a Cystocele Prolapse?

    A cystocele prolapse is when the bladder begins to droop down from its normal position, so much so that it protrudes into the front wall of the vagina, the anterior wall. A prolapse can happen to any organ of the pelvis; the bladder, small bowel, rectum, uterus or even the vagina itself. Any pelvic organ prolapse happens because the muscular system that holds everything in place, the pelvic floor muscles, have weakened.

    A cystocele can be inconvenient and embarrassing, but it’s comforting to know that they are very common in women, even if they’re not talked about directly much. You may have heard mum's talk about not being able to go on trampolines or chase their children around the park without leaking. Pregnancy, childbirth and the menopause can all contribute to a weakened pelvic floor but thankfully, performing daily pelvic floor exercises can help prevent, and treat, a cystocele prolapse.

    As with...

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  10. Bladder Prolapse

    What Is a Bladder Prolapse?

    The bladder is a balloon shaped, muscular bag that sits comfortably within the pelvis as it constantly fills with urine. The muscular front walls of the vagina (anterior walls) and the pelvic area help to support the bladder and hold it in place. If the muscles in the front wall of the vagina loosen and deteriorate too much, then a bladder prolapse can occur, where the bladder falls into the vagina.

    A bladder prolapse causes the pressure inside the bladder to increase, causing discomfort and urinary incontinence. We’ve all experienced what it feels like to have a full bladder, with nowhere to empty it, and how it no longer sits comfortably within the pelvis. Urinary incontinence can range from occasional stress urinary incontinence, where women may leak a small amount of urine if they cough or sneeze, to a more severe inability to hold in urine.

    A bladder prolapse is...

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  11. Types of Prolapse

    What is a Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

    A Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is a condition where one or more of the pelvic organs (e.g. uterus, bladder, vagina, rectum) droop from their usual healthy position in a women's pelvis, and fall down towards the vagina.

    Muscles, ligaments and skin, in and around the vagina, support and hold the female pelvic organs and tissues in place by acting as a hammock. However, pregnancy, childbirth, ageing, and the menopause, all contribute to the stretching and weakening of these pelvic floor muscles. The result can be a pelvic organ prolapse - where the pelvic organs or even the vagina itself fall out of their normal position. Once one organ begins to droop...

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