How does pelvic organ prolapse affect the body?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

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.

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
Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

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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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.