The pelvic organs i.e. vagina, bladder, rectum are surrounded by connective tissue and muscle that attaches to the pelvis. These tissues ensure normal functioning of the pelvic floor and support of the pelvic organs. However, these muscles can weaken causing the bladder or rectum to bulge against the vagina causing a prolapse. There is more than one type of prolapse including uterus, front wall of the vagina and bladder (cystocele), urethra (urethrocele), back wall of the vagina and rectum (rectocele), upper vagina support to bowel (enterocele) or rectum (rectal prolapse).
As we age the muscles and connective tissue naturally become weaker however there can be other contributing factors including:
• Vaginal birth delivery
• Vaginal surgeries
• Repeated heavy lifting
• Chronic constipation
• Chronic cough
Symptoms of prolapse include:
• A feeling of heaviness, fullness, dragging or pain in the vagina
• Pain or discomfort during intercourse
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
• Difficulty with bowel movements
• Recurrent urinary or bladder infections
Seeing a Chartered Physiotherapist for a full assessment and treatment plan can be effective in building up support of the pelvic floor muscles which acts as a hammock or shelf for the organs to rest on.
The aim of treatment is to maximise muscle strength to achieve better control and reduce awareness of the prolapse. This is achieved through an individualised exercise program, lifestyle and postural changes with the support of your GP, specialist doctor and physiotherapist.