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PROLAPSE OF THE FEMALE ORGANS

 

Prolapse of the Uterus, Vagina, Bladder and Rectum

What is meant by prolapse?

 

Understand prolapse

 


 

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROLAPSE

 

This page will provide a basic simple explanation of female organ prolapse. The information provided should not be use to diagnose nor be used to treat prolapse. It will just provide basic information to help you to understand the condition.

If you visited the the first few pages of this site , you should be familiar with the basic structure of the female organs. Prolapse occurs when gravity pulls the womb, bladder and the lower part of the bowel (rectum) down through the vagina. The organs are kept in place and prolapse are prevented by structures known as ligaments. Ligaments are thickenings of connective tissues and give strength and support to tissues. These ligaments attach the female organs to the spine and pelvic bones. Thus support prevents prolapse ( support the organs against gravity).

We will use drawings which a practicing gynecologist is using to explain these support systems in a simple manner. The drawings will also explain what happens when the support system is compromised, leading to prolapse. The drawings are simple and rather crude but we are sure they will help you to better understand this common condition .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Simple Graphic Presentation Explaining Prolapse of the Female Organs

The first drawing show the female organs as seen from the front. The lower part of the womb (uterus) and the upper part of the neck (cervix) are attached to the side wall of the body via ligaments.

Fig 1

 The lateral ( or side wall support) preventing prolapse

 

The next drawing shows the womb (uterus) as seen from the side. It also shows the bladder in front and the bowel ( rectum part of the large bowel) at the back. The upper part of the uterus is attached to the pelvic bone via the round ligament. There are two round ligaments. They are attached to upper part of womb ( one on either side of the womb) and reach forward to connect the womb to the front part of the body. (one on either side of the bladder)

The lower part of the womb and the neck are attached to the spine

Fig 2

 The support symtems preventing prolapse

 

The next drawing shows the support systems as seen from above. It represents a female body cut in half at the level of lower part of the womb, just above the cervix. The bladder is in front. The round ligaments are shown next to the bladder (one on either side). The round ligaments are attached to the upper part of the womb and not to the cervix. Ligaments attach the cervix to the back and side walls of the body. The round ligaments are attached to upper part of the womb, above the level shown in the next drawing.

Fig 3

Female organ support preventing prolaps

 

The next drawing shows the round ligament. There are two, and they stretch from the upper part of the womb to the front part of the body. They pass on either side of the bladder .

Fig 4

 Round ligament and preventing prolapse

 

These support systems are compromised during pregnancy and birth. The fetus ( or unborn baby ) develops in the womb and due to the increased weight there is a greater demand for support. When the baby passes through the birth canal during birth these ligaments and support systems are further stretched and may be damaged in some cases ( large babies and difficult labors)

The support systems will recover after birth but in some women only partially. Another factor influencing the support ligaments is advancing age. The ligaments deteriorate and become weaker with advancing age.

Thus the main main reasons for the development of prolapse are pregnancies and childbirth( the more children the higher the possibility of prolapse) and age ( the older a women the higher the possibility of prolapse) An interesting unresolved controversial question is : DOES CAESARIAN SECTION BIRTH DECREASE THE LIKELYHOOD OF PROLAPSE?

 

The following drawings illustrates what happens to the female organs during prolapse. They will illustrate how the womb, upper part of the vagina, bladder and rectum ( the lower part of the bowel) are pulled down as the support systems weaken.

 

Fig 5

 prolapse of the vagina and uterus illustrated


The above drawing illustrates early prolapse as seen from the front. Note how the vagina fold on itself as the womb drags it down and the weakened ligaments are stretched.

 

Fig 6

Total prolapse female organs


The drawing above illustrates severe advance prolapse.

As the vagina and womb prolapse the bladder and rectum ( lower part of the bowel) are also pulled down.

Click here for further illustrations: CLICK

The usual symptoms are :

1 A funny feeling in the vagina or a feeling as if something is pushing down the vagina.

2 Loss of bladder control especially when sneezing, coughing or doing physical exercises.

3 Actually feeling the prolapse organs in the vaginal opening and being able to push it back into the vagina.

The only effective treatment is surgical repair . The effectiveness of the different operations (vaginal hysterectomy, anterior and posterior repairs ) improved over the past two decades The development of artificial materials to enhance the support systems greatly improve the success of surgical treatment.


Last Update : 26 August 2003

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