What is Pelvic Prolapse?

Ligaments, muscles, and connective tissue normally hold your bladder, rectum, uterus, and other organs in their proper places in your pelvis. When the tissues that support the pelvic organs are stretched and damaged, the organ that they support may drop down. The relaxation may cause a bulge and a sensation of “something falling out” of the vaginal opening. This loss of support may also cause a loss of urinary control.

The primary causes of pelvic prolapse are:

  • aging
  • inherited weakness of the tissues
  • childbirth.

Other causes include:

  • menopause
  • obesity
  • chronic cough
  • persistent constipation

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling of vaginal pressure, as if something is falling out of the vagina. The bulge may protrude through the vagina.
  • Pulling sensation in the lower abdomen or low back.
  • Leakage of urine
  • Constipation

These symptoms may increase after standing for long periods of time, repeated coughing, lifting or straining

Types of support problems:

  • Cystocele: relaxation of the skin between the vagina and the bladder.
  • Rectocele: relaxation of the skin between the vagina and the rectum. This may cause severe constipation.
  • Uterine prolapse: the cervix and uterus drop into the vagina and sometimes outside the body. This may occur in combination with a cystocele and/or rectocele
  • Vaginal prolapse: after hysterectomy sometimes the vagina loses support and falls.

How is it treated?

  • Treatment of prolapse can involve exercises like the Kegel exercises used for urinary incontinence. Special devices called pessaries can be fitted in the vagina to correct the defects. Pessaries are a good option for those who are not good candidates for surgery.
  • Surgery is a common choice for repair of pelvic support. This should be done after childbearing is completed. Most of the surgical repairs require only one night in the hospital.
    • Anterior repair - The correction of a cystocele is accomplished by repairing the fascia (layers of connective tissue) between the vagina and the bladder.
    • Posterior repair - The correction of a rectocele is accomplished by repairing the fascia between the vagina and the rectum. -
    • Sacrocolpopexy - The correction of uterine or vaginal prolapse and cystocele is accomplished by lifting the cervix or the vagina and attaching it to the lowest part of the spine. This can be completed laparoscopically using the daVinci Robot.
    • Slings - The correction of stress incontinence is accomplished by lifting the mid urethra. This protects the leakage of urine that can occur

For more information on pelvic prolapse, visit:

Developed by Austin Regional Clinic.
Last modified: 2012-05-15
Last reviewed: 2012-05-15

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

© 2012 Austin Regional Clinic. All rights reserved.