Question

Female Reproductive System Disorders

How does pelvic organ prolapse affect the body?

A Answers (3)

  • With a pelvic organ prolapse, one or more of a woman's pelvic organs drop or push into her vaginal canal. Sometimes the organ protrudes out of the vagina as well. A prolapse is caused by a failure of weakened or damaged pelvic muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. The organs and structures that can be affected include the vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, urethra, rectum, and small intestine. Depending on the severity of the prolapse and the organ affected, the effects on the body can be minor and cause few or no symptoms or they can be severe enough to cause pain, urinary or bowel incontinence, and other complications.

  • AHealthwise answered

    The pelvic organs are kept in place by the muscles and connective tissues of the pelvis (pelvic diaphragm). The vagina of an adult woman is normally a round-topped, muscular tube that also supports the other pelvic organs. The pelvic muscles and tissues can be stretched or damaged, most commonly by childbirth. When they don't recover, they lose their ability to support the organs.

    The location and severity of pelvic organ prolapse is related to where in the pelvis the injury or muscular damage has occurred. You may have several areas of injury that contribute to prolapse. Prolapse may occur after surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) if the procedure removes or damages support of the bladder, urethra or bowel wall. If other conditions, such as childbirth, damage muscles or nerves in the pelvis, the pelvic diaphragm may lose its dome shape, become more like a funnel and then bulge down into or out of the vagina.

    Pelvic organ prolapse may increase pressure on the vagina and interfere with sexual activity, sometimes leading to sexual dysfunction.

    Lower estrogen levels during and after menopause make pelvic organ prolapse more likely. Estrogen helps your body to make collagen, a protein that enables the supportive tissues of the pelvis to stretch and return to their normal positions. Less collagen makes it more likely that those supportive tissues will tear. When estrogen levels go down, so do collagen levels.

    Pelvic organ prolapse may be a progressive condition, gradually getting worse and causing more severe symptoms. But in many cases it does not progress and may improve over time.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • AKevin Windom, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered

    Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can cause problems with pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse or problems with emptying your bowel or bladder. If these problems become more severe, this can cause chronic pain conditions as well as lack of intimacy. Also patient's with chronic constipation can have problems with bloating, abdominal distention, and pain. Lastly patient's with an inability to empty their bladder due to POP can possibly have recurrent bladder infections and/or kidney infections and possibly even kidney failure.

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