An estimated 3.3 million women in the United States have some form of pelvic organ prolapse. The pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, and rectum) are supported by a complex hammock of muscles, ligaments, and bones. Damage to this support system may result in prolapse. It can be caused by a falling cervix, uterus, or the walls of the vagina.
Women with severe cases may feel or see tissues coming out of the opening of their vagina. Women with mild cases experience symptoms that are vague and nonspecific, such as a feeling of pelvic heaviness or pressure either all of the time, after a long day on their feet, or after exercising.
Common causes of prolapse, which can also occur through the anal opening, include childbirth, hysterectomy, obesity, aging, chronic asthma,or constipation.
While not life threatening, prolapse causes significant quality of life issues. It also commonly occurs with other pelvic floor disorders, including urinary or anal incontinence, constipation, or overactive bladder.
Treatment options for prolapse include the use of watchful waiting, pessaries, or surgery. According to the National Association for Continence, about 200,000 surgeries are performed each year to correct pelvic organ prolapse. This means you are not alone.