What are pelvic support problems?
The pelvic organs include the vagina, cervix, uterus, bladder, urethra, small intestines, and rectum. The pelvic organs are held in place by muscles of the pelvic floor. Layers of connective tissue called fascia also provide support. These supporting muscles and fascia may become torn or stretched, or they may weaken because of aging. Problems with pelvic support often are associated with pelvic organ prolapse. In this condition, the fascia and muscles can no longer support the pelvic organs. As a result, the organs that they support can drop downward.
What are the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?
Many women have no symptoms and are not bothered by their pelvic organ prolapse. The symptoms of those who do have problems can range from mild to severe. Listed are common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse:
What causes pelvic organ prolapse?
The main cause of pelvic organ prolapse is having had children. Women who have had a vaginal delivery have a slightly increased risk of pelvic support problems than those who have had a cesarean delivery.
Other causes of pelvic support problems include the following:
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What are the types of pelvic organ prolapse?
There are many types of prolapse:
What exams are performed to help diagnose pelvic support problems?
Your health care provider will do a thorough exam, including a vaginal and rectal exam. You may be examined while lying down or while standing. You may be asked to strain or cough during the exam to see if you leak urine. How completely your bladder empties also may be checked.
What are some nonsurgical ways to obtain symptom relief?
What are Kegel exercises?
Make sure you are not squeezing your stomach, thigh, or buttocks muscles. You also should avoid holding your breath as you do these exercises.
Can surgery correct pelvic support problems?
Some pelvic support problems may be corrected by surgery to restore the normal depth and function of the vagina. Symptoms such as back pain, pelvic pressure, and painful sex may not be relieved by surgery to repair the prolapse. However, the chances of getting some degree of relief are quite good.
Prolapse can recur after surgery. The factors that caused a woman to have prolapse in the first place can cause it to occur again.
Bladder: A muscular organ in which urine is stored.
Cervix: The lower, narrow end of the uterus, which protrudes into the vagina.
Cesarean Delivery: Delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.
Cystocele: Bulging of the bladder into the vagina.
Diuretic: A drug given to increase the production of urine.
Enterocele: Bulging of the small intestine into the upper part of the vagina.
Fascia: Tissue that supports the organs and muscles of the body.
Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus.
Incontinence: Inability to control bodily functions such as urination.
Laxative: A product that is used to empty the bowels.
Pelvic Floor: A muscular membrane at the base of the abdomen attached to the pelvis.
Pessary: A device inserted into the vagina to support sagging organs.
Rectocele: Bulging of the rectum into the vaginal wall.
Rectum: The last part of the digestive tract.
Urethra: A tube-like structure through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Urethrocele: Protrusion of the urethra into the vaginal wall.
Uterine Prolapse: Sagging of the uterus into the vagina.
Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.
Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vaginal Vault Prolapse: Bulging of the top of the vagina into the lower vagina or outside the opening of the vagina.