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Pelvic organ prolapse: symptoms and diagnosis

Learn about common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse and how a doctor may diagnose you.

Do I have pelvic organ prolapse?

Have you experienced any of the most common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse (POP)?

Icon showing pressure or discomfort in the vaginal or pelvic area.

Pressure or discomfort in the vaginal or pelvic area

Icon showing diminished bladder and/or bowel control.

Diminished control in the bladder and/or bowels

Icon showing pain in pelvic region.

Pain during intercourse

Icon showing a bulge near the opening of the vagina.

A bulge near the opening of the vagina

It’s always important to talk to your doctor sooner rather than later when you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms associated with pelvic organ prolapse. There’s no shame in joining the conversation and there is no guilt in putting your health first.

Female patient in gown looking out a window..

Not sure if you have pelvic organ prolapse?

Take this short quiz to find out if you might have pelvic organ prolapse and share your results with your physician.

What are the types of pelvic organ prolapse?

Diagram of cystocele formation with bladder, rectum, vagina, and prolapse.

Cystocele

A cystocele forms when the upper vaginal wall loses its support and sinks downward. This allows the bladder to drop. When a cystocele becomes advanced, the bulge may become visible outside the vagina. The symptoms caused by cystoceles can include pressure, slowing of the urinary stream, overactive bladder, and an inability to fully empty the bladder.

Diagram of vaginal vault prolapse with bladder, rectum, vagina, and prolapse.

Vaginal vault prolapse

This occurs when the uterine or vaginal support structures holding the upper part of the vagina are weakened. If the uterus is present, this is called “uterine prolapse.” Symptoms include pressure, pain, bladder infections, and difficulty urinating.

Diagram of rectocele with bladder, rectum, vagina, and prolapse.

Rectocele

A rectocele forms when the lower vaginal wall loses its support, allowing the rectum to bulge into the vagina. Rectoceles may cause difficulty with bowel movements — including the need to strain more forcefully, a feeling of rectal fullness even after a bowel movement, increased fecal soiling, and incontinence of stool or gas.

Diagram of enterocele with bladder, rectum, vagina, and prolapse.

Enterocele

An enterocele typically forms when the small intestine bulges through the top of the vagina after a hysterectomy, but not always. In some women, the intestine may slide between the back of the vagina and the rectum. The symptoms can be vague, including a bearing down pressure in the pelvis and vagina, and perhaps a lower backache.

How is pelvic organ prolapse treated?

Pelvic organ prolapse can be treated in several ways, depending on the exact nature and severity of your condition. Talk with your doctor to determine which treatment is right for you.

Learn more about treatments

Physician consulting with a patient.

Ready to talk to a specialist?

There are many doctors who specialize in pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic organ prolapse. You can search by city, state, or ZIP code to find the right one for you.

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