Pelvic organ prolapse refers to the lowering or dropping of the uterus, bladder (cystocele), vagina, or rectum (rectocele). Many women who have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse do not even know they have it until it becomes symptomatic, if it ever does. However, if you are reading this page you are likely experiencing disturbing symptoms that interfere with daily self-care activities and your sex life.
A vaginal bulge and/or pressure are symptoms you may have experienced with pelvic organ prolapse. The bulge of vaginal tissue may be felt upon palpation when wiping or when sitting. For example, when the bladder prolapses, it will bulge through the front part of the vaginal wall. Bowel movements may also become very challenging, often times requiring a person to “splint” themselves or manually apply pressure to the prolapsed area in order to pass the stool. Pain is less common with this dysfunction.
The pelvic floor muscles are designed to support the reproductive organs and bladder. When the muscles are unable to do this due to inflammation, irritation, weakness, spasm, or trauma, it predisposes the organs to lower.
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to assess your symptoms. Being the evaluation will be internal and external, you and your therapist will work together to ensure your comfort throughout the entire process. If your therapist feels you may need further examination or testing, she will refer you to an MD.
Treatment will depend heavily on the reason for your pelvic organ prolapse. For example, if the prolapse occurred due to weakness of the muscles your treatment will consist of strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles, core, and surrounding musculature. In all cases, your physical therapist will educate you on simple lifestyle changes, such as how to avoid constipation, that may aide you in your rehabilitation process.