Vaginal prolapse is also referred to as “Pelvic Organ Prolapse” or “Urogenital Prolapse”. It is due to a weakness of the pelvic floor, which allows the organs surrounding the vagina to bulge or herniate into the vagina.
There are several types of vaginal prolapse, which often occur in combination, because there is often a weakness of the pelvic floor in multiple areas. Vaginal Prolapse is named after the tissue or organ that protrudes into the vagina.
In front of the vagina lies the bladder and urethra. When the urethra prolapses into the vagina, this is called a “urethrocoele”. When the bladder bulges into the vagina, this is called a “cystocoele”. A combination of bladder and urethral prolapse is referred to as a “cystourethrocoele”.
Behind the vagina lies the rectum. When the rectum prolapses into the back of the vagina, this is called a “rectocoele”. A prolapse of the small bowel into the vagina is called an “enterocoele”.
“Uterine prolapse” refers to the protrusion of the uterus (womb) into the vagina. In women who have had a hysterectomy, the top of the vagina can protrude into the vagina, and this is referred to as a “vault prolapse”.
Vaginal Prolapse is more common as women get older, but it can also affect younger women. Almost half of all women who have delivered a child will have some form of vaginal prolapse some time later in life, however many of them do not seek treatment. Overall only about 10-20% of women with prolapse will seek treatment by a gynaecologist. This may be because some of these women are not bothered by the prolapse, whilst others may be too embarrassed to seek help.
Vaginal Prolapse can cause many embarrassing symptoms for women, and can significantly affect the lives of many women. The symptoms may include:
Women with vaginal prolapse may also have concurrent problems with urinary incontinence.
Dr Ken Law is a Brisbane Gynaecologist with special interest in the management of Vaginal Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence. For further information and to discuss your specific conditions and treatment, please contact Dr Ken Law to arrange an appointment at Greenslopes Obstetrics and Gynaecology.