The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that support your abdominal organs, including your bladder and uterus. If your pelvic floor becomes weak or damaged, these organs can drop out of their normal positions — a condition called pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse can greatly impact your everyday life. Even though it is common, many do not seek treatment because they may feel embarrassed or like no one else is struggling with this condition. But pelvic prolapse is nothing to be ashamed of — at Rush, we specialize in treating pelvic health issues in a compassionate and non-judgmental way.
What You Should Know About Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse most often occurs in women. Having multiple vaginal births, giving birth to a larger baby and hormonal changes during menopause are risk factors. Obesity, aging and family history can cause pelvic organ prolapse too.
There are several types of pelvic organ prolapse, each defined by the organ that drops into the vagina:
- Cystocele (dropped bladder): Bladder; the most common type of pelvic organ prolapse
- Enterocele: Parts of the small intestine
- Rectocele: Rectum
- Sigmoidocele: Lower part of the colon
- Uterine prolapse: Uterus
- Rectal prolapse: Unlike the other types where an organ extends into the vagina, rectal prolapse is when the rectum protrudes into the anus.
Signs You Should Get Help for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can often be felt and seen:
- Pressure, heaviness or fullness in the vagina
- Discomfort during physical activity or sex
- Feeling of bulging through the vaginal canal or anus
- Bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence
- Urine retention
- Bowel leakage, also known as fecal incontinence
- Constipation or difficulty emptying a bowel movement
- Recurrent or frequent urinary tract infections
If you think you may have pelvic organ prolapse, your primary care provider will talk about your symptoms and do a pelvic exam. Then, your doctor may recommend treatment options or refer you to a Rush specialist.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treatment at Rush
If you have pelvic organ prolapse, your Rush provider will recommend treatment based on your specific diagnosis and how severe the condition is.
- Lifestyle changes: Sometimes changing the way you eat, including eating more fiber, can put less strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Taking stool softeners or fiber supplements can also be effective.
- Physical therapy: Rush physical therapists, who specialize in pelvic floor physical therapy, work with you to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
- Incontinence treatment: Providers at Rush offer many treatment options for urinary or fecal incontinence, which may result from pelvic organ prolapse.
- Pessary: A pessary is a rubber, removable device that help support your pelvic organs without surgery. Your Rush specialist will fit a pessary to your body.
- Surgery: Rush urogynecologists and colorectal surgeons are experts at performing minimally invasive procedures to correct all types of pelvic organ prolapse.
Rush Excellence in Pelvic Organ Prolapse Care
- Nationally ranked for gynecologic care: U.S. News and World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center No. 13 in the country for gynecologic care.
- Research-driven care: At Rush University Medical Center, our urogynecologists are leaders in academic research on pelvic floor conditions. That means you’ll have the most advanced care with the latest research guiding your treatment.
- Care that’s convenient for you: You can see a Rush pelvic organ prolapse provider close to home. Our providers offer appointments in Chicago, Aurora/Fox Valley and throughout the suburbs.
- Surgical innovation for pelvic floor treatment: As pioneers in minimally invasive surgical techniques, our doctors will help you select the surgery best for your condition and symptoms. Because our treatment is minimally invasive, you'll have less pain and recover faster.
- Program dedicated to pelvic health: At Rush University Medical Center, we also offer the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health which brings together a team of experts, including urogynecologists, gastroenterologists, colon and rectal surgeons and pelvic floor physical therapists, to care for those experiencing multiple conditions. Based on your diagnosis, your team of providers will develop a care plan that considers how your conditions relate to each other, and which treatments will be the most effective in finding you relief.