What is prolapse?
Prolapse is a condition in which organs, which are normally supported by the pelvic floor, namely the bladder, bowel and uterus, herniate or protrude into the vagina. Prolapse is caused by muscles and ligaments that have been weakened or damaged. The most common causes of prolapse include:
- Childbirth: Often, the stress and strains of childbirth (especially multiple, large, or difficult childbirth) can weaken or damage pelvic muscles and ligaments, which eventually will cause vaginal prolapse.
- Previous Surgery: Surgeries, especially in the pelvic area, may affect your muscles and other supportive tissue, potentially leading to vaginal prolapse.
- Hysterectomy: Because important, supportive ligaments may be removed during surgery, it may affect and increased risk of prolapse.
- Obesity: Added weight can strain muscles in the pelvic area, and overtime this can weaken muscles, which can lead to vaginal prolapse.
- Age: Because aging can weaken pelvic muscles and ligaments, the risk of vaginal prolapse increases – in fact, it doubles with each decade of life – and affects half of women over age 45.
- Ethnicity: Studies suggest that vaginal prolapse may occur more often in women of Northern European descent, and less frequently in women of African-American descent. Hispanic and Asian women may have an increased risk of developing cystocele.
An estimated 34 million women worldwide are affected by prolapse. Studies show that women are reluctant to discuss it with each other and even with a doctor.
Statistics confirm how common this condition is: 1 out of 2 women over age 45 suffer from pelvic organ prolapse.