Female genital prolapse happens when the organs descend from their original place. Often linked with age, pregnancy, birth or the menopause, it can be annoying and uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous. The prolapse is caused by a weakening of the muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place, notably the perineal muscle. Learn how to recognise the signs of the different forms of genital prolapse.
The different types of genital prolapse
There are three types of genital prolapse, which lead to a part or the entirety of the rectum, bladder or uterus sliding downwards, to varying degrees.
Uterine prolapse or hysterocele
Also called prolapsed pelvis, genito-uterine or vaginal prolapse first manifests as an uncomfortable sensation in the lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by pain. Sometimes, you feel a little bulge around the vulva.
This phenomenon consists of the uterus descending into the vagina, caused by subsidence of the vaginal walls.
Naturally, the descent of the genital organs has an impact on a person’s sex life. Vaginal prolapse can also cause pain during penetrative sex and reduced libido.
Prolapsed bladder or cystocele
Urinary problems can be a sign of a prolapsed bladder. Such problems include difficulties urinating to varying degrees (depending on the person), with frequent urges to urinate, burning during urinating and urinary leaks.
This type of prolapse is the most common, and counts for 80% of cases -four out of five. It is characterised by the bladder falling down towards the vagina. This type of prolapse can also have an impact on a person’s sex life.
Rectal prolapse or rectocele
People affected by rectal prolapse, or rectocele, tend to suffer regularly from constipation or suffer from faecal incontinence.
Faecal incontinence relates to the loss of control of the muscles in the anal sphincter, which translates as an inability to hold in stools. Involuntary bowel movements or the inability to delay bowel movements are some of the most common symptoms of faecal incontinence.
The rectum can descend into the vagina, or in the case of a full rectal prolapse, the rectum can descend into the anal passage.