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Vaginal Prolapse

All about vaginal prolapse

When the rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel or vagina falls out of their normal position, vaginal prolapse occurs. Prolapse means to fall out of place. Most women who develop some sort of vaginal prolapse are over 40. Many have experienced it following childbirth, menopause or hysterectomy. Although 30 -- 40% of women experience prolapse at some point in their lives, some do not even know it has happened and others do not seek help because they are embarrassed.

There are a variety of symptoms of vaginal prolapse. They depend on the kind of prolapse that has been experienced. Some symptoms common to all types of vaginal prolapse include pressure in the pelvis or vagina, pain or pressure when lying down, painful intercourse, and several urinary tract infections.

Types of Vaginal Prolapse

If a woman suffers from vaginal wall prolapse, it means that the front wall or the back wall of the vagina has prolapsed. If the front wall of the vagina has prolapsed, it means that her bladder and/or urethra have sunk into the vagina. Incontinence from sneezing or laughing is often the result of this kind of prolapse. If the back wall of the vagina has prolapsed, it means that the wall of the rectum has prolapsed. This can create a bulge that may be noticeable during bowel movements.

Vaginal vault prolapse is common for women who have had a hysterectomy. It involves the upper portion of the vagina losing its natural shape and dropping down into the vaginal canal or outside the vagina completely. Symptoms of vaginal vault prolapse include heaviness in the pelvic region, backache and vaginal bleeding.

Vaginal Prolapse Surgery

There are a few different treatment options. Vaginal prolapse surgery is the longest lasting and most successful option. The aim of the surgery is to find support for the vagina or uterus. Depending on which wall of the vagina has prolapsed, stitches will be added to add strength to the wall. During vaginal vault surgery, the surgeon stitches the wall of the vagina to tissue in the pelvis to give it support. The surgeon may use a general or spinal anesthetic. The surgery can be done laparoscopically, which means it will involve small incisions and a scope with a camera on it to enable the surgeon to see what he is doing. The incisions will be made closest to the area of the vagina that is being repaired, often the abdomen. Women usually spend two to four days in hospital following the surgery, and have to avoid heavy lifting for a few months. They will have to go off all medications 24 hours before the operation, and avoid eating anything after midnight the night before the operation.

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