How does pelvic organ prolapse affect the body?

Nearly 50% of postmenopausal women experience pelvic organ prolapse. Nathan Guerette, MD from Johnston-Willis Hospital looks at the impact on quality of life associated with this extremely common condition.
B B. Clary III., MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Pelvic organ prolapse affects the body in a number of ways. Pelvic organ prolapse refers to a hernia of the pelvic organs (bladder, rectum, uterus, small intestines) into or through the vaginal walls. When the pelvic organs herniate into or through the vagina it can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, including the following:
  • pressure
  • dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  • trouble emptying the bladder
  • trouble emptying the bowels
  • dryness
  • something protruding through the opening of the vagina
  • infections
  • bleeding
  • damage to the organs that are prolapsing
Lennox Hoyte, MD
Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery
Pelvic organ prolapse affects the body in many ways. In this video, Lennox Hoyte, MD, an OB/GYN and urogynecologist at Florida Memorial Hospital of Tampa, explains how the vagina supports the organs around it and how prolapse affects those organs.
Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

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.

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.

Continue Learning about Female Reproductive System Disorders

Female Reproductive System Disorders

Female Reproductive System Disorders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the female reproductive system is highly fragile and vulnerable to a number of infections, injuries, and diseases. For this reason, it is crucial to visit your doctor an...

nually and take good care of your reproductive health. Health practices like having an annual pap smear and practicing safe sex can reduce your risk of many reproductive health problems. If you experience uncomfortable symptoms in your pelvic region including pain, itching, or unusual discharge, call your doctor. While some itching or discharge can be normal, these symptoms can sometimes be indicative of problems that need medical treatment.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.