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What Is Vaginal Prolapse?

What Is Vaginal Prolapse?

Nancy LeBrun is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning writer and producer who has been writing about health and wellness for more than six years

Learn about our editorial processPublished on February 11, 2022Medically reviewedVerywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.byPeter Weiss, MD Medically reviewed byPeter Weiss, MD

Peter Weiss, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN and expert in women's health.

Learn about our Medical Review BoardTable of ContentsView AllTable of Contents

Vaginal prolapse, also known as vaginal hernia, is when the vagina slips out of place in the body. Sometimes the vagina moves only slightly or it can shift significantly. In the most severe cases, it can protrude from the body. Vaginal prolapse can cause discomfort but can be treated with vaginal physical therapy, medication, or surgery, if necessary.

This article discusses the signs, causes, and treatment of vaginal prolapse.

Signs and Symptoms of Vaginal Prolapse

Many women do not have any symptoms of vaginal prolapse. Healthcare providers may discover it during a gynecological exam. Women who experience signs and symptoms may have:

In severe cases, an organ may protrude through the vaginal opening.

Who Is Most Likely to Have Vaginal Prolapse?

Vaginal prolapse is more common in women who:

Types of Vaginal Prolapse

There are two types of vaginal prolapse, categorized by how much the vagina has moved.

What Is Vaginal Prolapse?

When the prolapse is small and the vagina has dropped only partway into the vaginal canal, it is called an incomplete prolapse. Larger prolapses are called complete prolapses, in which some vaginal tissue can protrude from the body.

Prolapses are also categorized by the affected organs:

Causes of Vaginal Prolapse

As many as a third of all women will have some sort of vaginal prolapse at some point in their lives. The most common causes are:

There are some other rare medical conditions, such as a tumor or a congenital bladder condition, that can cause prolapse.

How Is Vaginal Prolapse Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers diagnose a vaginal prolapse from a physical examination. They may ask you to move muscles like you are having a bowel movement or as if you are stopping urination.

They will also ask about any symptoms, such as incontinence, that you may be experiencing.

If a complete prolapse is suspected, they may order an imaging test such as an ultrasound to see how the prolapse may be affecting or affected by other organs.

Treatment and Prevention of Vaginal Prolapse

If the prolapse is minor and you are not having symptoms, you may not need treatment. If it is causing discomfort, treatment includes:

You can help prevent prolapse by:

Summary

Vaginal prolapse is a condition in which the vagina slips down in the body. It's more common in women who have delivered several children vaginally, and in older, post-menopausal women. Vaginal prolapse may not cause any symptoms, but if it does, physical therapy and possibly surgery (if the prolapse is severe) can strengthen the pelvic muscles and help support the vagina.

A Word From Verywell

Vaginal prolapse can cause discomfort. If you notice a feeling of heaviness or like you are sitting on something that bulges, you may have a prolapse. Contact your healthcare provider or gynecologist if you experience symptoms so you can get treated.

Frequently Asked Questions

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