The uterus, vagina and other organs in the lower part of the abdominal cavity are supported by the strong muscles; these muscles are known as the pelvic floor muscles. If the muscles and ligaments weaken, an uterine or vaginal prolapse occurs.
Stretching or loosening of the muscles is often the result of childbirth, as well as the consequence of the aging process. In that case, muscles and ligaments no longer hold the uterus firmly in place, so the uterus, while lowering, causes the lowering of the vagina. This causes prolapse, i.e. protrusion of the front or back wall of the vagina. In rare cases, the uterus can be lowered to such an extent that it falls completely out of the vagina; this is so-called complete prolaps. (The same disorder can also cause sphincter incontinence.)
A lump or bump is developed in vagina, and it can even stretch out. The disorder causes a feeling of weight and discomfort, as well as back pain, especially at the end of the day, after lifting or after strain. In some cases, symptoms of so-called sphincter incontinence occur, although sometimes the result is completely opposite (i.e. urination is difficult). If there is a lowering of the back wall of the vagina, it may be difficult to discharge the stool, and the straining exacerbates the condition even more.
A prolapse is common, especially during the first few months after childbirth and in older women. Every year, one women out of 250 sees the doctor for this condition.
Prolapse may be uncomfortable and cause disturbances although, generally, is not dangerous to health – if appropriate measures are taken. Protrusion of the large part of the vagina or uterus can cause wounds, ulceration and infection.
What to do?
Prolapse can easily be avoided by postoperative exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. If you think you have a prolapse, go to a doctor who will confirm the diagnosis and, probably, exclude the possibility that there is a more serious illness in your case.
Your doctor will probably recommend self-help measures to solve the problem; surgical procedure is needed very rarely. First, if you are overweight, try to lose some weight. Eat food that is rich with plant fibers so you can expel your stool without straining. You can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles by regular exercise (the pelvic floor muscles are the muscles you use when you want to stop urinating when you’re halfway done). Exercise your muscles a few minutes each day (exercises are also recommended after childbirth).