About Pelvic Organ Prolapse

“I was relieved when I found out that this was real and I wasn’t alone.”
– Liz

Female Pelvic Anatomy

Experiencing pelvic organ prolapse can be challenging — it can interfere with your activities, intrude on your personal life, and be just plain uncomfortable.29


Pelvic organ prolapse (or POP) is a condition in which one or more organs in the pelvis descend due to a loss of support from the pelvic floor.30 The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, often described as being shaped like a hammock, that support the bladder, uterus, vagina, intestines, and rectum.31


Typically, these muscles and surrounding tissues keep the pelvic organs in place.30 Sometimes they become too weak or stretched to continue supporting your pelvic organs.32 Organ shifting that happens because of these weak muscles can result in one or more types of prolapse. Experiencing heaviness in the pelvic area is a common symptom of these changes. Read about Liz’s experience with this symptom after childbirth and how she found relief here.

Diagram of the female pelvic floor, internal organs and causes of pelvic organ prolapse

Understanding Prolapse33

To better understand the different types of prolapse, it is important to understand which organs have shifted as well as where the pelvic floor became weak, which results in different types of prolapse.

Back (Posterior) Wall Prolapse

Diagram of Rectocele Pelvic Organ Prolapse


Rectocele Prolapse: Occurs when the rectum protrudes into the vagina due to the weakening of the support tissue.

Diagram of Enterocele Pelvic Organ Prolapse


Enterocele Prolapse: Occurs when the intestines protrudes into the vagina due to the weakening of the support tissue.

  • A bulging sensation is one possible symptom. Another symptom may be having difficult bowel movements, either straining during bowel movements or feeling like you haven’t completely evacuated your bowels. You may experience the need to put your finger into your vagina or rectum to help fully empty your bowels

Front (Anterior) Wall Prolapse

Diagram of Cystocele Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Cystocele Prolapse: Occurs when the bladder protrudes into the vagina due to the anterior (front) vaginal wall becoming weak.

  • Bulging of the pelvic organ outside of the body is one possible symptom. Another symptom may be some form of urinary incontinence.

Top of the Vagina

Diagram of Vaginal Vault Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Vaginal Vault Prolapse: Occurs when the top part of the vaginal wall loses support and drops into the vagina.

Diagram of Uterine Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Uterine Prolapse: Occurs when the top part of the vaginal wall loses support and the uterus drops into the vagina.

Potential Causes of Prolapse

Approximately 3.3 million women in the U.S. suffer from pelvic organ prolapse.34

Pelvic organ prolapse is common.34 Over 3 million women in the United States suffer from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and 300,000 surgeries are performed in the US annually to treat POP.35

There are certain risk factors that may increase your likelihood of experiencing prolapse, including:

  • Vaginal childbirth35
  • Menopause35
  • Obesity32
  • Chronic cough32
  • Frequent constipation32
  • Pelvic organ tumors32

Women talking about pelvic organ prolapse with her doctor

Symptom Checker

Women experiencing prolapse won’t always experience obvious symptoms. As prolapse progresses, the symptoms may become more apparent and painful. If you are experiencing prolapse, you may experience:

  • Pressure in the pelvic region
  • Vaginal discomfort, pain, pressure or bleeding
  • Pulling or aching in the lower abdomen or pelvis
  • A bulge coming out of the vagina
  • Painful or uncomfortable sexual intercourse
  • Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may have prolapse and should consult with your doctor. Remember, although these signs and symptoms can alert you to a problem, they are not unique to prolapse, so it is important to consult a doctor for the correct diagnosis.