About Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue weaken or tear, causing one or more of the organs inside the pelvis to slip from their normal positions and bulge into the vagina. The pelvic organs consist of the uterus, vagina, bowel, and bladder. Normally, the muscles and tissues in the pelvic region support the pelvic organs to hold them in place. Similar to a hernia, pelvic organ prolapse can develop quickly, but it can also progress over the course of many years.
As many as one in three women will develop prolapse in her lifetime, and up to one in five will have surgery for this very indication. However, because there is a perceived stigma related to the symptoms of pelvic floor disorders, many people are reluctant or embarrassed to discuss them, even with their doctors.
Pelvic Floor Disorder Video Overview
Margaret G. Mueller, MD, discusses pelvic floor disorders, symptoms and treatment options.
The urogynecologists at Northwestern Medicine Women’s Integrated Pelvic Health Program (IPHP) offer comprehensive evaluations and treatment options for women with pelvic organ prolapse, and we offer both conservative and surgical options. The physicians of the IPHP are committed to providing individualized care for every patient. All IPHP physicians are fellowship-trained and/or board-certified specialists in the field of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (Urogynecology), Urology, and Colon & Rectal surgery. All serve on the faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The Women’s IPHP is a national leader in treatment and research for women with pelvic organ prolapse, offering a transdisciplinary approach to caring for women with pelvic floor disorders in one location. Specialists from different disciplines work jointly to create new treatments and innovations that transcend discipline-specific approaches to address each woman’s pelvic floor symptoms.
Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
To evaluate a woman for pelvic organ prolapse, a urogynecologist will review a woman’s medical history and perform a pelvic examination. She will measure the degree of the vaginal prolapse using a staging system ranging from one to four. Below you'll find descriptions of four types of pelvic organ prolapse: