The vaginal complex consists of a network of muscles, ligaments, and skin and acts as a support structure for pelvic organs, tissues, and other architecture; and components of this support system may eventually weaken, causing a common condition called pelvic organ prolapse.

This is a condition in which anatomical components such as the uterus, rectum, bladder, or even the vagina itself may begin to fall out of their normal positions. Medical treatment is absolutely necessary lest these structures prolapse farther into the vagina. The consequences of an untreated prolapse may be severe.

Two of the more common forms of pelvic organ prolapse are bladder prolapse cystocele and urethral prolapse. A bladder prolapse, sometimes known as a cystocele, occurs when the bladder wall presses against the vaginal wall; whereas, a urethra proplapse presents when the urethral tissues sag downward into the vagina. Both conditions can be readily diagnosed during a physical exam and sometimes occur simultaneously.

These conditions can be exacerbated by vaginal childbirth. While many women experience some degree of prolapse, few have outward symptoms. In cases when symptoms do manifest, patients have reported difficulty urinating, urinary incontinence, and pain during sexual intimacy. These conditions are usually repaired through an incision in the vaginal wall and are designed to tighten loose tissue in the bladder or urethra and strengthen the vaginal structures in order to prevent prolapse from recurring.

General anesthesia is generally employed during these types of corrective procedures and may require a day or two in the hospital. Most patients return home with a drainage catheter in place and go back to normal activities in about six weeks. After a prolapse corrective procedure, patients are cautioned against strenuous activity for 90 days. Most women are able to resume sexual intercourse in less than two months normal urinary function returns after about a month, but can take up to six weeks.

As with any surgery, there are risks that should be considered. For a prolapsed pelvic organ post-operative risks include continued urinary incontinence, urinary retention, infection, bladder injury, or the formation of abnormal connections between two or more pelvic organs. It is important to note that internal structural conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse is often caused and/or exacerbated by pregnancy, labor, and vaginal delivery.

Women may wish to consider foregoing a surgery to correct a prolapsed organ until a decision is made to stop having children. Surgical repair may relieve most of the problems caused by a cystocele or urethrocele. However, some symptoms may remain even after surgery. If pelvic pain, low back pain, or pain with intercourse is present before the procedure, these symptoms may or may not return after the patient has completely healed.