Vaginal prolapse is the term used to describe a weakness in one or more
sides of the vaginal wall, allowing one or more pelvic organs to fall
into the vagina. Vaginal prolapse is a broad term used to describe the
- cystocele (fig 1) or weakness in the front wall of the vagina allowing
the bladder to fall into the vagina,
- rectocele (fig 2) is a weakness in the back wall
of the vagina allowing the rectum to fall into the vagina,
- enterocele (fig 3) is a weakness in the
top or roof of the vagina allowing small bowel to fall into the vagina,
- and vault prolapse is when the top of the vagina, which is usually
deep in the pelvis, descends into the bottom of the vagina or completely
outside of the opening of the vagina.
Women often have more than one type of prolapse. The prolapse is staged
according to how severe it is, meaning how much the prolapse has descended
into the vagina and sometimes outside of the vagina.
Women complain of a bulging or pressure inside the vagina. Some women
can see or feel a bulge from the vagina. Women with a rectocele might
need to push the prolapse back inside the vagina to defecate (or have
a bowel movement) properly. They may also have difficulty emptying their
rectum completely and might leak stool after having a bowel movement.
Conversly, women with a cystocele might need to push the prolapse back
inside to empty their bladder completely.
Women with an enterocele might complain of low abdominal or back pain.
Vaginal prolapse is diagnosed during a vaginal exam by a physician,
usually a primary care physician or gynecologist. Some physicians who
specialize in treating prolapse and urologic conditions, such as a urologist,
or urogynecologist, might recommend a urodynamic test to determine if
there are associated bladder conditions that need to be addressed concurrent
to the prolapse, such as urinary incontinence.
If you suspect you might have a prolapse, seek the advise of your primary
care physician who will refer you to a specialist: a urologist, ,gynecologist,