The group of muscles around your pelvis, in the shape of a hammock, to keep all your pelvic organs in place is referred to as the “pelvic floor”. These organs include your bladder, vagina, small bowel, and rectum. Sometimes any of these organs can drop or descend which is known as the pelvic floor drop or pelvic organ prolapse. What happens then? Let's find out.
What Happens In A Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is the protrusion of any of the pelvic organs into or outside of the vaginal canal or anus. Based on the organ that “falls”, these are the different kinds of pelvic organ prolapses:
- Cystocele: when the bladder descends into the vagina (also the most common type of pelvic organ drop)
- Urethrocele: The prolapse of the urethra
- Uterine prolapse: A prolapse of the uterus
- Vaginal vault prolapse: prolapse of the vagina
- Enterocele: Small bowel prolapse
- Rectocele: Rectum prolapse
What Causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic floor drop is the result of anything that puts too much pressure on the abdomen like:
- Pregnancy & labor
- Respiratory problems like chronic or long-term cough
- Pelvic organ cancers
- Surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy)
- Genetics, because some women may inherently have weaker connective tissues, exposing them to greater risk.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
While some women might not feel any symptoms of the pelvic drop and the fact that these symptoms can differ based on which organ is getting prolapsed, here are some of the common symptoms of the pelvic floor drop:
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area
- Backache in the lumbar region or even in the lower abdomen.
- Painful sexual intercourse
- A feeling that something is falling or dropping out of the vagina
- Urinary problems such as leaking of urine or a chronic urge to urinate
- Constipation or loss of bowel control
- Spotting or bleeding from the vagina
However, as mentioned before, different prolapses have different symptoms, like, if the bladder has descended into the vagina, you might lose bladder control and leak urine. If it’s the rectum, small intestine, or uterus it can lead to uncomfortable intercourse; with constipation and backache respectively. These symptoms are also mild in the morning but get worse as the day goes on.
How Is The Pelvic Organ Prolapse Diagnosed?
If you suspect that one of your organs on the pelvic floor may have descended, you need to talk to your doctor or a specialist. Here’s how they can help you.
- They'll get some information about your clinical history and analyze your pelvic organs to find out how solid your pelvic floor muscles are. It very well might be all they need to do to conclude since pelvic floor drop can also be genetic thanks to weaker connective tissues.
- The doctor might arrange an assortment of tests if they suspect pelvic organ prolapse. They may likewise find pelvic organ prolapse during a routine pelvic test, for example, the one you get when you go for your Pap smear.
- Other procedures that may be performed include bladder tests, a urinary tract X-ray, a CT scan, ultrasound, or an MRI scan of the pelvis. This would provide X-ray or 3D pictures of the pelvic region of the body to enable you to recognize your condition better.
- If they discover something, they may want to learn more about it in order to determine whether more than one organ has fallen away from its intended position, the severity of the prolapse and whether you have any other underlying ailments.
What Is The Treatment For The Pelvic Floor Drop?
Based on how severe your symptoms are, pelvic prolapse can have the following treatment methods:
- Behavioral treatments, such as physical therapy to strengthen the muscles of your core like Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor muscles
- Mechanical treatments like embedding a little plastic gadget called a pessary into the vagina to offer help for the hanging organs
- Surgical treatment, either to fix the impacted tissue or organ or to eliminate the organ (like removal of the uterus by a hysterectomy)
Can You Prevent A Pelvic Floor Prolapse?
Many risk factors that can be a cause of pelvic floor drop include family history, advancing age, a difficult delivery, or having a hysterectomy. However, you can reduce the chances of having a pelvic floor drop by doing these simple things:
- Do Kegel practices every day to keep up with great muscle strength in your pelvic region
- Keep a sound weight
- Ensure you eat healthy foods and don’t get constipated
- Try not to smoke, as smoking can influence tissues and a chronic cough fund often in smokers can trigger the descent of your organs
- Be cautious with the heavy lifting - use your legs, not your back.
In most cases, pelvic floor drops can be avoided and are not that serious. However, if you feel backache or other symptoms of the same, it is best you consult a doctor. Apart from that, having healthy exercises like Kegels and a set routine can help your pelvic floor stay fit and fine.