Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that occurs when one or more organs protrudes through the muscle layer that separates the vaginal canal from the abdominal cavity. This condition is more common than you might think, and it often goes undiagnosed because women are either afraid to speak about it or are unaware that what they are experiencing is an issue. But pelvic organ prolapse can lead to an array of other issues, from infection to incontinence, if left untreated. For this reason, it's important to know who is at risk of the condition and what symptoms indicate you might have it.
Who May Develop Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
The older you get, the greater your risk of developing this condition. The condition occurs most often in women who have given birth — especially those who have given birth to very large babies. The thing is, it may not happen right away. Sometimes women experience pelvic prolapse 5 or even 10 years after giving birth, so they don't immediately connect the dots.
Women who are chronically constipated and therefore strain a lot are also at risk for pelvic prolapse. And if you have a family history of the condition, you're more likely to develop it than someone who does not have a family history.
What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Prolapse?
The first symptom most women notice is a feeling of increased pressure in the pelvic floor area. This pressure may get worse throughout the day, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet. If the organ that is prolapsing is your bladder, which is quite common, you may feel like you have to urinate more often, and you may have trouble controlling the flow of urine. If the organ that is prolapsing is your rectum, you may struggle to defecate or feel like you can't empty your bowels completely.
As the prolapse worsens, you may actually see or feel something bulging from the wall of your vaginal canal. It may actually even protrude from the vagina itself. Women with this condition struggle to insert tampons and will find intercourse difficult, if not impossible.
Keep an eye out for the symptoms of prolapse, especially if you are someone who has given birth and is at an older age. If you do suspect something is amiss, talk to your doctor. They can diagnose you and ensure you get the proper treatment, which is often surgery.