You may have never heard of vaginal prolapse, but it’s fairly common among women who have experienced multiple childbirths and women in menopause.
What is vaginal prolapse?
Your pelvic muscles are important; they hold the organs in your pelvis in place. If these muscles weaken, they may no longer support the uterus, urethra, bladder, or rectum, and the organs can begin to sag down, or prolapse, into or outside of the vagina. Types of prolapse include:
- Anterior vaginal prolapse: Bladder begins to dip into the vagina
- Posterior vaginal prolapse: Rectum pushes into the vagina
- Uterine prolapse: Uterus begins to move into the vagina
- Apical prolapse: Cervix collapses and sags into the vagina
- Vaginal vault prolapse: Top part of the vagina droops into the lower part of the vagina or outside of it
What are the symptoms of vaginal prolapse?
Following are six common symptoms of vaginal prolapse.
Just as when you were pregnant, you may start feeling the need to urinate frequently — except now you’re in menopause. The muscles supporting your uterus and bladder have weakened as you’ve lost estrogen. Your bladder may be pushing into your vagina, which can bring on urgent and frequent needs to urinate because you can’t empty your bladder completely.
Another related symptom of vaginal prolapse is leaking urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. This embarrassing symptom may lead you to use adult diapers so you don’t have an accident in public.
Your front vaginal wall supports your bladder. When it weakens, the bladder can prolapse, or fall into the vagina. The prolapse is classified into four stages based on the severity of the condition, ranging from mild, when the tip of the bladder begins to move toward the top of the vagina, to severe or total prolapse, when the bladder ends up outside of your vagina. This stage usually occurs with other types of organ prolapse, e.g. the uterus or rectum.
Increase in urinary infections
If you’ve noticed that you’re getting repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs), you may have vaginal prolapse. When your bladder doesn’t empty properly, bacteria can grow, causing a UTI.
Difficulty with elimination
If you find that you feel constipated and can’t empty your bowels normally, you may have a type of vaginal prolapse. Your body has soft tissue that separates the rectum from the vagina. If it weakens, the tissue pushes against the vaginal wall and becomes distended. The protrusion can make it difficult to eliminate bodily waste.
Pain during intercourse
If you’re experiencing pain during intercourse, you want to know what’s causing it and get it treated as soon as possible. Vaginal prolapse may be the culprit, especially if you’ve gone through childbirth several times or are entering menopause.
The prolapse may cause tissue from your pelvic floor to move into your vagina. The tissue doesn’t belong there and can result in painful intercourse.
Sensation of fullness in the pelvis
If your pelvic area feels full or heavy or you have a sensation of pulling or tugging, your uterus may have prolapsed. It may be dropping down into the vagina. Doing pelvic exercises can help prevent prolapse in some women.
If you think you may have vaginal prolapse, call or book an appointment online with Healthcare for Women. Dr. Taylor’s expert gynecological treatment can ease or eliminate your symptoms.