Vaginal prolapse is the inward and downward bulging of the vaginal walls.
Vaginal prolapse is caused by weakened support structures in the pelvis. This causes the walls of the vagina to weaken, sag, and collapse.
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This problem is more common in older women after menopause. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may be:
- Pelvic pressure, heaviness, or pain
- Pain during sex
- Tissue that slips or extends past the vagina
- Vaginal discharge
- Problems passing stool
- Problems passing urine, such as urgency and frequency
- Low backache that is relieved with lying down
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will also be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Some women may not need to be treated. The goal is to ease symptoms in those who do need to be treated. This can be done with:
- Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Estrogen therapy to prevent further weakness of the pelvic floor
- A device placed in the vagina to prop up the uterus and bladder
Women with severe symptoms may need surgery. It can help repair the pelvic floor structures.
The risk of vaginal prolapse may be lowered by:
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Limiting heavy lifting
- Avoiding constipation
- Doing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office on Women's Health
Canadian Women's Health Network
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS). ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 185: Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Nov;130(5):e234-e250.
Pelvic organ prolapse. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pelvic-organ-prolapse. Updated April 22, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020.
Uterine and apical prolapse. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/pelvic-organ-prolapse-pop/uterine-and-apical-prolapse. Updated April 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020.
Vaginal pessary. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/vaginal-pessary. Updated February 8, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 7/23/2020