Pelvic Floor Prolapse
What is a Dropped Bladder and Will I Get That?
Another word for a dropped bladder is pelvic floor prolapse. It is a condition that only occurs in women and involves the pelvic organs—namely the bladder, the uterus, the rectum, or the small intestines--sagging into the vaginal canal. The reason it only occurs in women is that women have space (the vagina) into which those structures can fall. Although unpleasant, frightening, and inhibiting, it is not a dangerous condition.
Pelvic floor prolapse usually results from pregnancy or a prior history of pelvic surgery, such as a hysterectomy. The muscles that support the pelvic organs stretch out, weaken, and can no longer bear the weight placed upon them. Like a hammock that loses its strength, the pelvic floor weakens over time until the bulge becomes noticeable and symptomatic,
Many women with pelvic organ prolapse will feel a ball protruding through their vagina either while wiping after a bowel movement or while washing themselves in the shower. Other women will feel like a tampon is stuck in their vagina, so they have trouble walking, sitting, or standing. Lying down is the most comfortable position because the prolapse will reduce back up into the pelvic cavity. The prolapse can affect both bowel and bladder function. Difficulty evacuating either the bladder or the bowels is the most common complaint. But urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence can also occur as a result of pelvic floor prolapse
The risk factors that can lead to prolapse include pregnancy, obesity, smoking, chronic respiratory problems, and chronic constipation. Age contributes, although many women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have a symptomatic prolapse. As we get older, the vaginal tissues lose their elasticity, resulting in further laxity of those ligaments and muscles. Clearly genetic, pelvic floor prolapse runs in families. Many women who present with complaints will remember that their mother or grandmother had something related to her bladder, but they never discussed it. If you would like to learn more about pelvic floor prolapse, please call our office or press the "Book Online" button to make an appointment to see one of our physicians.