Vaginal prolapse is generally said to occur when the tissues, muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus, urethra, bladder, rectum or bowel weaken, causing these organs to slip down from their normal positions into the vagina.
When this occurs, the individual in question would start to experience symptoms like a vaginal lump (usually found at the vaginal opening), vaginal pressure (that decreases when the individual lies down), sexual problems (mainly dyspareunia), constipation, urinary or bowel related problems, urine incontinence (especially while sneezing or coughing) and recurring urinary tract infections.
In certain advanced cases, vaginal prolapse may progress to the stage where these organs may protrude through the vaginal opening. Vaginal prolapse can be classified into the certain categories based on the organs that are involved in the condition.
These include Uterine Prolapse (the womb protrudes into the vagina), Rectocele (the rectum protrudes into the vagina), Enterocele (the small bowel protrudes into the vagina), Cystocele (the bladder protrudes into the vagina) and Vaginal Vault Prolapse (the upper portion of the vagina starts to sag).
Risk Factors Associated With Vaginal Prolapse
Vaginal Prolapse is more prevalent in women who have given birth or undergone a hysterectomy. Some of the other risk factors associated with the condition in women include age (the supportive tissues become weak with age), menopause (reduced estrogen levels weaken the supportive tissues and muscles), obesity (too much pressure placed on the organs can cause them to move downward into the vagina), connective tissue abnormalities, supportive nerve or tissue dysfunction and rigorous physical activities.
In certain cases, women who have undergone pelvic surgery in the past can also experience vaginal prolapse.
Treatment Options For Vaginal Prolapse
Vaginal Prolapse may be treated in several ways. In certain cases, standard forms of treatment are only opted for when the condition becomes symptomatic.
Natural Ways To Treat Vaginal Prolapse
Mild cases of vaginal prolapse can be easily treated with certain natural a.k.a home remedies.
These include basic exercises, dietary changes and lifestyle changes that can help control the condition and its symptoms to a great extent. The most common natural treatments for vaginal prolapse are given below.
Obesity can have a profound impact on vaginal prolapse. Therefore, individuals with the condition are generally asked to reduce weight until the pressure lifts off the organ (or) organs protruding into the vagina. Healthy eating can help keep an individual control her weight gain and treat vaginal prolapse naturally in the process.
Individuals with vaginal prolapse are usually asked to refrain from engaging in strenuous activities or exercise routines. Rigorous workouts like lifting heavy weights (including even washing baskets, shopping bags and children etc.)
can place excess pressure on the organs surrounding the vagina, thereby leading to vaginal prolapse or aggravating an existing condition. Even exercises like jogging, skipping and jumping can have a profound impact on vaginal prolapseand its symptoms.
Women with vaginal prolapse are generally asked to do Kegel exercises that aim to tighten the tissues and muscles present in and around the pelvic region. Doing Kegel exercises on a daily basis would enable an individual to tighten loose muscles or tissues that could be causing the condition. Regular Kegel exercises would also strengthen the supportive tissues and muscles, and prevent vaginal prolapse in the future.
Medical Options For Vaginal Prolapse
Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Vaginal Prolapse can be effectively treated with Estrogen Replacement Therapy which aims at replenishing the reduced estrogen levels in the body. Low levels of estrogen in the body would usually cause the tissues and muscles around the vagina to become weak and sag. When this happens, the organs attached to these tissues and muscles would naturally hang down and protrude into the vagina.
The estrogen replacement therapy would make sure that this scenario is avoided by balancing the estrogen levels in the body and reversing the symptoms of vaginal prolapse (weak vaginal walls). However, a downside to estrogen replacement therapy for vaginal prolapse is that it cannot be used by women who are being treated for cancer.
Mild cases of vaginal prolapsecan also be treated via a non surgical option called a vaginal pessary. A vaginal pessary is also the best option for women who cannot opt for the estrogen replacement therapy or surgery. In certain cases, the pessary can used as a temporary treatment option for vaginal prolapse until the next phase of treatment for the condition is started.
A vaginal pessary is a small apparatus that is inserted into the vagina to prevent the vaginal walls from sagging. The device is made of vinyl and supports the vaginal walls, thereby preventing the nearby organs from protruding into it.
The device is usually used in conjunction with estrogen cream which helps to prevent infection and erosion along the vaginal wall. It is also considered imperative to remove and clean the pessary regularly in order to prevent vaginal infections.
A vaginal pessary is usually recommended for sexually inactive women. And while these devices can effectively help prevent vaginal prolapsed, they can be uncomfortable to handle or can fall out easily.
Physical Therapies For Vaginal Prolapse
Mild to severe cases of vaginal prolapse can also be treated with certain physical therapies like biofeedback and electrical stimulation.
This method employs the use of a sensor to regularly monitor the muscle strength and activity in and around the vaginal and pelvic regions.
The sensor is usually used to measure muscle contractions in these regions, and is used to check whether certain exercises prescribed by the doctor would have any effect on the targeted vaginal and pelvic muscles, and would be able to alleviate the symptoms of vaginal prolapse in the process.
This particular therapy involves using a probe to send electrical currents to the muscles in and around the vaginal and pelvic regions. An instrument attached to the probe which in turn is inserted into the body.
The instrument measures and sends electrical signals which would cause the muscles to contract. Regular contractions would thus strengthen the supportive tissues and muscles, thereby treating vaginal prolapseand its symptoms effectively.
A slight variant of the therapy involves magnetically stimulating the pudenal nerve of the body from outside (i.e. sans any intrusion). The magnetic stimulations cause contractions in the muscles present on the pelvic floor, thereby treating the symptoms of vaginal prolapse (like urinary and bowel incontinence) to a great extent.
Surgical Options To Treat Vaginal Prolapse
Surgery is usually considered as the best form of treatment for severe cases of vaginal prolapse. The main purpose of the surgery in most cases would be to provide proper support for the vagina and uterus. This is (or both) in order to strengthen the supportive tissues lining them.mostly done by stitching either the back or front vaginal walls.
The procedure is . In most cases, the doctor would apply a sacrospinous fix usually done via small incisions made in and around the vaginal regionation stitch at the top of the cervix or vagina to support the stitched tissues and muscles.
In others, the doctor may employ a vinyl mesh to support the vagina or uterus from dropping again. If the uterus itself has prolapseand is beyond repair, the doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus.
Surgery to treat vaginal prolapse can have its own share of complications which would vary from patient to patient. Some of the more common side effects of a surgery for vaginal prolapse would include vaginal pain, vaginal bleeding, uterine injuries, urinary incontinence, vaginal infection, formation of holes in the bladder or rectum, painful sexual intercourse and formation of blood clots that could move to the lungs etc.
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