Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting the pelvic organs weaken. This can cause the pelvic organs to slip out of place.
Other names for pelvic organ prolapse include a cystocele, rectocele, bladder prolapse, uterine prolapse and vaginal prolapse.
While many factors contribute to pelvic prolapse, the process often begins with a woman vaginally delivering a baby. Other factors that contribute to pelvic prolapse are smoking, chronic bronchitis, obesity, diabetes, and a family history of prolapse.
Years after childbirth, loss of muscle tone and relaxation of muscles due to menopause and natural aging can cause prolapse to progress and cause symptoms including:
Urinary leakage, urgency and frequency
Difficulty having a bowel movement
Pain during intercourse
Heaviness, aching or a pulling sensation in the lower abdomen
In severe cases, the cervix or other internal organs may actually bulge through the opening of the vagina.
Treatment options range from pelvic floor strengthening exercises to a broad array of minimally invasive vaginal and laparoscopic approaches.