A prolapse is bulge from one part of the body to another.
More specificially, a vaginal prolapse is a bulge into the skin on the inside of the vagina. This is due to a weakness in the wall of the vagina. This weakness allows other organs of the pelvis (the bowel, bladder or uterus) to press into the skin of the vaginal wall, making it bulge inwards. If the prolapse gets large enough, it can bulge all the way out through the opening of the vagina.
Prolapse are named depending on which part of the vaginal wall has the weakness. More than one type may happen at the same time. The four types are:
More than one organ may bulge into the vagina at the same time.
Some conditions make a prolapse more likey. They include:
In the early stages of a prolpse, the bulge may be so small it doesn't cause any symptoms or problems. The woman may not even know about the bulge until she is examined by a doctor.
Gradually, many prolapses increase in size and the bulge starts to cause problems and become visible as it sags down towards the outside of the vagina.
With a larger prolapse, the woman may experience:
Where possible, treatment is aimed at simple lifestyle changes, such as:
A pessary is a removable device put into the vagina to stop a prolapse bulging out. It's usually fitted by a gynaecologist or a continence nurse advisor. If the prolapse is severe, painful or making it hard to pass urine or faeces, the woman may need to have an operation to fix the problem.
For more information on prolapse, watch the video below.
Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.
A prolapse can happen:
A woman is more likely to have a prolapse if she:
A sign of a large prolapse is:
Treatment for prolapse might be:
This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.