Also known as a rectocele, a posterior vaginal prolapse is when the thin tissue wall that sits in between the vagina and rectum weakens. When this occurs, the vaginal wall bulges. Although an unpleasant occurrence, this is a treatable condition. Small prolapses may not be detected, while more dramatic ones may require surgical intervention.
What Causes Vaginal Prolapse?
The most common cause for a vaginal prolapse is childbirth, especially when the labor is difficult. Other activities that put too much pressure on the pelvic wall can cause it as well. As women age and go through menopause, the lack of estrogen can also weaken these muscles.
Other causes of vaginal prolapse include being overweight, excessive coughing from lung disease, lifting heavy objects, and even chronic constipation. Things that increase a woman’s risk include smoking, having a family history of prolapse, and having fibroids.
Symptoms of Vaginal Prolapse
Although there are not always noticeable symptoms, the most common ones are:
- Difficulty with bowel movements
- A bump or lump in the vagina
- Needing to urinate more frequently
- Pain in the lower back that is relieved when lying down
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent bladder infections
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- A sensation of fullness in the rectum
Treating a Vaginal Prolapse
There are several treatment options available, depending on the severity of the prolapse. For mild cases, Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles may be enough. Kegel exercises are easy to do and just involve tightening and releasing the muscles to build their strength. To prevent the condition from getting worse, lifting heavy objects should be avoided and eating a high-fiber diet to avoid constipation is important.
The next option is a vaginal pessary, which is a rubber or plastic ring to help support the tissues that are bulging. If this is the case, the pessary ring will have to be removed regularly to be cleaned.
When the prolapse is more severe, a surgical treatment may be called for. This is more likely the case when the vaginal prolapse extends outside of the vagina. If other organs in the pelvis have also prolapsed, all of these can be treated during one surgical treatment.
Vaginal surgery will usually consist of removing the extra tissue that has stretched to the point of not doing its job. If needed, a mesh patch could be inserted to help support the remaining tissue down there.
If you are concerned about a vaginal prolapse and want to learn more about how it is treated, the professionals at Institute for Women’s Health will be happy to help. We are conveniently located in San Antonio, TX. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!