What is prolapse?

Prolapse refers to an organ falling out of place.  In the female pelvis organs at risk of prolapse include the uterus, bladder, rectum, small bowel, and the vaginal wall itself.  Any or all of these organs can fall down through the vaginal opening and lead to a number of symptoms including pelvic and vaginal pressure and pain; discomfort with sitting, standing or exercising; incontinence of urine or faeces; and pain with intercourse.



Normal Pelvis


Bladder Prolapse (Cystocoele)


Bowel Prolapse (Rectocoele)


Uterine Prolapse

What causes prolapse?

While aging is a factor, there are other contributing causes. These include loss of muscle tone, menopause, pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, family history, pelvic trauma or previous surgery, repeated heavy lifting, chronic constipation, chronic coughing, smoking and certain medical conditions such as diabetes. It may also occur with other pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence.

How common is prolapse?

Almost 50% of women who have given birth experience some degree of prolapse. Just over 10% of women have surgery for prolapse.

What are the symptoms of prolapse?

Prolapse can cause a variety of symptoms. Women with prolapse may become aware of a lump, a bulge, fullness or heaviness in the vaginal area. Lower back pain and pelvic discomfort are common symptoms. Prolapse of the bladder may cause difficulty with bladder emptying and recurrent bladder infections. While prolapse of the rectum may cause constipation and difficulty passing a bowel motion. Prolapse may cause problems with sexual intercourse such as reduced sensation, vaginal looseness or discomfort and pain.