An overview of vaginal prolapse from Dr. J. Kyle Mathews
Vaginal prolapse occurs when a woman’s vaginal walls become weak, causing her pelvic organs to prolapse or fall into her vagina. Dr. J. Kyle Mathews diagnoses and treats both types of vaginal prolapse at our North Dallas urogynecology office.
Anterior vaginal prolapse (cystocele)
The bladder is supported by fascia, or supportive tissue, which can become weak and stretch. When this happens, a woman’s bladder falls down from lack of support and descends into the vagina, or it may even begin to bulge outside the vaginal opening. Symptoms of anterior vaginal prolapse can feel uncomfortable, but many women accept them as a natural part of the aging process.
Symptoms of anterior vaginal prolapse
- A feeling of increased discomfort when you cough, strain or lift heavy objects
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the vaginal or pelvic area
- Urinary problems, including recurring bladder infections or feeling like you don’t have a completely empty bladder
- Urinary leaking or pain during sex
If your bladder begins to bulge at the vagina, you may feel like you are sitting on something like a small ball or an egg.
Posterior vaginal wall prolapse (rectocele or enterocele)
There is fascia, or supportive tissue, separating your rectum from your vagina. When this fascia weakens or stretches, your intestines or rectum can fall or prolapse into your vagina. Sometimes, if the prolapse is small, you may not notice any symptoms at all, but if the condition worsens, tissue may bulge or protrude outside the vagina.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of posterior vaginal prolapse.
- Problems with bowel movements—feelings of fullness or pressure on the rectum or feeling like your rectum did not empty completely after a bowel movement
- Feeling like you need to use your fingers to push in or around your vaginal or rectal area to help you complete a bowel movement
Risk factors for vaginal prolapse
Two of the biggest risk factors for vaginal prolapse are vaginal childbirth and aging. As women age, especially after menopause, their body produces less estrogen, and estrogen plays an important part in keeping the pelvic floor organs and muscles strong. Other risk factors include:
Genetics—some women are born with weaker fascia or connective tissues than others
Obesity—your pelvic floor organs, muscles and tissues feel the strain of extra weight
Hysterectomy—if your uterus was removed during a hysterectomy, that is another risk factor
There are certain factors that can contribute to or cause vaginal prolapse, including:
- Straining when you move your bowels
- Problems with chronic constipation
- Having chronic bronchitis or cough
- Repeatedly doing heavy lifting
Dr. Mathews has many years of experience diagnosing vaginal prolapse. He also provides the most up-to-date surgical options for vaginal prolapse, as well as non-surgical treatments for vaginal prolapse. To make an appointment with Dr. Mathews, contact us.