What do the Pelvic Organs Consist of?
In a woman, the pelvic organs consist of the bladder, uterus and rectum. They are, in turn, supported by a strong pelvic floor.
Damage, trauma and progressive weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and nerves results in pelvic organ prolapse. Common risk factors include pregnancy and childbirth, particularly prolonged labour/pushing, and assisted vaginal births are important contributing factors.
The pelvic floor weakens further as ladies age and enter menopause, with associated age-related degeneration exacerbated by declining estrogen-related tissue changes. Additionally, factors that chronically increase intra-abdominal pressures, e.g. being involved in strenuous physical work or suffering from chronic cough and constipation/straining, will increase the overall strain on the pelvic floor and up the tendency to develop pelvic organ prolapse in future.
Other (less common) causes include being born with natural/congenital weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and fascia – for example, ladies suffering from collagen deficiency diseases are also at risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse.
Not all women with pelvic organ prolapse have symptoms. Some get diagnosed only when they go for their routine gynaecological checks.
Depending on the severity, pelvic organ prolapse symptoms include:
You should seek professional help if you feel small bulges in your vagina, even if there are no signs of symptoms or pain before the bump becomes more prominent and uncomfortable.
The evaluation of pelvic organ prolapse begins with a thorough medical history and a pelvic examination. This is best done by a urogynaecologist, who will be able to determine the presence, type and severity of prolapse (i.e. bladder, rectum or uterine). Many women may present with multi-compartmental prolapse, which means that they have prolapse involving more than 1 pelvic organ.
After that, your doctor might do one or more of the following tests to delineate further information:
Book an appointment with Dr Ng Kai Lyn today.
Treatment of pelvic organ prolapse depends heavily on the extent of the patient’s symptoms, the presence of complications and how bothered they are by the prolapse. For less severe cases, conservative, non-surgical treatments might be sufficient. However, you may need surgery if your symptoms significantly affect your quality of life.
Treatment options include:
Surgery is usually performed by a trained urogynaecologist and needs to be individually tailored according to the type and severity of prolapse, age and general health.