Vaginal prolapse—also called pelvic organ prolapse—is a common health condition that sometimes does not get the attention it deserves. Many women who have pelvic organ prolapse are unaware of what is occurring when they experience symptoms, because they feel uncomfortable discussing them.
Vaginal prolapse can occur when the pelvic floor muscles weaken and one or more organs shift into the vaginal canal. This can cause symptoms such as pressure in the vagina, difficulty urinating, hesitancy, or leakage of urine.
MedStar Health urologists are fellowship-trained, with particular expertise in addressing vaginal prolapse. Our physicians understand women’s urology concerns and work with multidisciplinary teams to bring knowledge and compassion to help.
Symptoms of vaginal prolapse
Vaginal prolapse can be identified by the following common symptoms:
Pressure or pain in the vagina or rectum
Difficulty with bowel movements
Vaginal prolapse can affect all women, although those who are older, overweight, or have undergone pregnancy and childbirth are more at-risk. There are multiple causes for the condition, such as childbirth complications, menopause, heavy lifting, genetics, and neuromuscular disease.
Diagnosis of vaginal prolapse
To diagnosis vaginal prolapse and plan appropriate treatment, MedStar Health urologists will conduct an exam and discuss with you your medical history.
Your physician may recommend further testing to effectively diagnose this condition and plan treatment. Some tests may include:
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Cystoscopy: A tiny tube with a camera is inserted into the bladder
- Urodynamic testing: MedStar Health is one of the only facilities in the area to offer advanced video urodynamic testing to fully assess the urinary tract, including kidneys and bladder, to get a comprehensive picture of urinary function.
- Pelvic floor strength tests
- Hormone level evaluation
A definitive diagnosis is the first step to planning effective treatment. Multidisciplinary teams at MedStar Health are able to address the complex factors that can impact vaginal prolapse and will discuss various treatment options depending on your condition and lifestyle.
Treatment for vaginal prolapse
Once a definitive vaginal prolapse diagnosis has been made, you will discuss treatment options with your physician. The best options for you will depend on the type and severity of your pelvic organ prolapse, lifestyle priorities, and activity level.
Treatment often begins with more conservative, non-surgical options, such as:
- Placement of a pessary
- Pelvic floor physical therapy
Surgical options can also provide effective relief and include minimally invasive surgery options, such as through the vagina, or with use of robotic technology conducted through the abdomen. MedStar Health’s vaginal prolapse experts and da Vinci® robot technology produce results to give you peace of mind and allow you to return to your prior daily activities.
Surgical intervention normally requires an overnight hospital stay. Patients typically report an easy recovery and appreciate improvement in heaviness, pressure, and other symptoms.