Prolapse Symptoms Every Woman Needs to Know

Symptoms of a prolapse Are you worried about your prolapse symptoms? Prolapse symptoms can vary from one woman to the next, often depending on the type and severity of the prolapse.

This Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist guide teaches you the main prolapse symptoms experienced by women.

Read on now to check prolapse symptoms:

  • 4 main types of prolapse symptoms:

               1. Vaginal symptoms
               2. Bladder symptoms
               3. Bowel symptoms
               4. Sexual symptoms

  • What is a pelvic prolapse?
  • How severe is your prolapse?

Download this prolapse symptoms article as a user friendly PDF by scrolling down this page.

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Prolapse Symptoms for Women

There are four main groups of symptoms:

  1. Vaginal and pelvic symptoms
  2. Bladder symptoms
  3. Bowel symptoms
  4. Sexual symptoms

There are also other possible medical causes of these symptoms so having one or a number of these symptoms does not conclusively indicate the presence of a prolapse which needs to be medically diagnosed with physical internal examination.

The following general symptoms of pelvic prolapse can exist either in isolation or some women may find that they have a number of the following prolapse symptoms.

Vaginal and Pelvic Symptoms of Prolapse

These particular symptoms often become worse with prolonged standing, over the course of the day and with straining to use the bowels.

  • Bulging sensation in the vaginaProlapse symptoms
  • Heaviness or pressure within the vagina
  • Sensation of a bulge protruding from the vaginal entrance (this may be visible sitting at the entrance of the vagina)
  • Low back ache and/or pain
  • Abdominal pressure and/or pain
  • Visible bulge at the entrance to the vagina
  • Difficulty inserting a tampon or tampon moving down the vagina once inserted.

Bladder Symptoms of Prolapse

  • Increased bladder frequency (bladder emptying)
  • Bladder urgency and associated bladder leakage (strong urge to empty the bladder)
  • Problems with the flow of urine which may be slow to flow, prolonged duration to empty, hesitant or stop/start urine flow
  • Incomplete bladder emptying (which can contribute to chronic bladder infections and associated symptoms)
  • Needing to manually reposition the vaginal prolapse to allow the bladder to empty
  • Bladder flow changed according to the position of the body.

Bowel Symptoms of Prolapse

  • Difficulty emptying the bowel including problems commencing emptying, needing to strain throughout and a sensation of incomplete bowel emptying
  • Constipation requiring straining or manual assisting using the fingers to provide pressure against or within the vagina to manually assist
  • Incontinence of stool (including liquid stool and staining of underwear especially with rectal prolapse)
  • Sensation of constantly needing to pass stool or rectal pressure
  • Poor wind (flatus) control
  • Bowel urgency
  • Discomfort during and/or after emptying the bowel.

Sexual Symptoms of Prolapse

  • Vaginal pain or vaginal discomfort during or after penetrative sexual intercourse
  • Difficulty with penetration with more severe prolapse
  • Bladder leakage with intercourse
  • Decreased sexual satisfaction
  • Decreased sexual arousal
  • Sexual disinterest

What is a Pelvic Prolapse?

prolapse symptoms

Uterine Prolapse

A pelvic prolapse is a bulge of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vagina.  The pelvic organs include the bladder, uterus, and rectum. A prolapse occurs when the walls of the vagina and the supports for the pelvic organs become weakened and stretched. The different types of pelvic organ prolapse are:

  • Cystocele is a bladder prolapse into the front wall of the vagina;
  • Rectocoele is a prolapse of the large bowel (colon and/or rectum) into the back wall of the vagina;
  • Prolapsed uterus or uterine prolapse is the downward movement of the uterus and cervix down into the vagina (shown above);
  • Urethrocele is a urethral prolapse/bladder beck into the front wall of the vagina; and
  • Rectal prolapse is a prolapse of the rectum through the anus.

These different types of prolapse may have unique symptoms that are particular to that specific prolapse for example a rectocoele is typically associated with bowel symptoms.

How Severe is your Prolapse?

Prolapse symptoms do not necessarily indicate prolapse severity however there are some general trends that help you check.

Women with mild prolapse usually (but not always) experience minimal symptoms.

Women can be completely symptom free despite their prolapse and are often surprised to learn of its existence after routine gynecological exam.

Those women having a severe prolapse usually describe more noticeable prolapse symptoms.

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  1. I had vaginal hysterectomy 7 weeks ago because of prolapse bladder I know walking is good but any other exercises I can do to help not gain wait back since can’t go to gym? Very frustrated

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Michele walking is usually best along with stationary cycling (or road cycling on flat surfaces) when you have permission from your doctor to ride

  2. Virginia says

    I appreciate the information provided. I do not yet have any problems with prolapses. With the information here I hope I can prevent something like that from happening. It is a problem I hope never to have to experience. I will be sharing this site with other women I know. Thank you so much.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Great that this has helped you Virginia! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment

      • Louise, Ireland says

        Hi Michelle

        I have a prolapse, unsure which organ, I would grade it a 3 and want to go to GP now lockdown is easing. My question is, where does the actual pelvic floor muscles lie at, once the organ has prolapsed? I can’t make it out from any diagrams. You have said in your videos there is a double layer. Are these like 2 hamstrings side by side that part and the organ falls through? Or is the pelvic floor muscles dropped down too and that is what I can see protruding? Also if your pelvic floor becomes really strong, can they not pull the prolapsed organ back up. This is me wishful thinking and hoping. Thanks.

        • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

          Hi Louise
          The pelvic floor is like a layered hammock of muscles. The layers are positioned stacked above each other. There are 3 openings in the pelvic floor for women and with a prolapse the vaginal walls move down and out of the vagina. What you can see or feel is the inside of the vagina being pushed down by one or more of the pelvic organs (the bladder at the front or the rectum at the back). I hope this adds some clarity. There is some evidence that pelvic floor training can help the prolapse sit higher in women with mild to moderate but not severe prolapse

      • Louise, Ireland says

        Hi Michelle,

        Please can I ask if having a prolapse can make your belly stick out/larger? My prolapse worsened over last 2 months and at the same time I noticed my belly was sticking out more. Since it has got worse I have stopped exercising, afraid it will worsen further, so it has got bigger anyway but is this possible? Thank you.

        • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

          Hi Louise Having a vaginal prolapse won’t make your belly larger however having a larger belly can possibly worsen a prolapse by increasing the load on the pelvic floor (e.g. abdominal weight gain) all the best

  3. I am confused….i was told in one hospital i had a womb doctor done blood tests all fine but cholesteral at 220 went to appointment at another hospital and they tell me its not womb but my bladder, also cystitis + a polyp on my cervix at 7mm and start of the menopause. no one has given me information on what is going to happen…….I cant stand for more than 10 mins before i get severe back pain and pain down my legs, i cant sit as it is painful below,,,so i lay down all day and night am getting fat and bloated and so depressed…………no one will tell me anything i was an active 48 and now feel like 90,

    can you advise on what sort of doctor I should see for treatment and information

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Suzie

      Not sure which country you’re in – in Australia I would suggest you see a Urogynaecologist for a thorough assessment. There are many possible causes; lower back, pelvic floor, you may also be interested in reading up on pelvic floor muscle tension which may or may not be a factor, this really needs to be assessed by a Urogynaecologist.

      All the best to you

  4. I have prolapse, which was discovered 2-3 weeks ago when I felt a bulge in vagina. It has been there since.I have never been a exercise person, but am active and work hard, cleaning houses. I know I lift much to heavy items. I’m 68 and very scared that my life is totally changed..I have been reading information non stop to find out what to do.I have been trying the whole woman, and th ttapp, organs in place/hf exercise 2 times a day for 2 weeks now.Now that I found you site I’m not sure I should..If you have the bulge and it stays there will it get better, move up, with regular exercise? I know prolapse won’t go away, but can you make it where you don’t feel it and actually get it out of your mind..I don’t want surgery. I’m just hoping I can work hard on this to improve it.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Peg
      I think it is very confusing for women to know what to do when diagnosed with a prolapse and stay active. I think it would be well worth seeing a gynaecologist or pelvic floor physiotherapist for professional advice regarding your specific condition as you are currently relying on what you are reading on the internet. No one can advise you on the best management without assessment and examination. There are a number of non surgical options available to help wome manage prolapse – the evidence based methods are pelvic floor exercises and the use of a support pessary. It will be important to modify activities that worsen prolapse such as heavy lifting however women with mild-moderate prolapse can often stay active with appropriate management.

      I hope this gets you going on the right track for your body Peg

  5. Janette Smith says

    Hello Michelle,
    I so appreciate your information. My problems with a rectocele are sort of manageable, the Dr says its not too big, but is hesitant to operate as I have spondylitis. .. Disc prolapses over 40 years ago, and now pain in one leg at night relieved by changing position every 20 mins or so. Not good sleep due to this, …
    My GP says try a 2 Nd opinion, newer technology probably, I can do the very basic pelvic exercises, can carry slightly heavier things, but the rectocele “moves”, v uncomfortable when low down.Bladder control not too bad. I am mid 70s. .. Have you some Michelle advice, please?! I am pretty healthy, just the arthriticky type things. Thank you, Jan

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Janette
      I agree with your GP in that technology is now much improved for surgical procedures and anaesthetic practices compared with 40 years ago. There is also now much more widespread acceptance and use of support pessary to help management if surgery is not an option. I would be inclined to seek a consultation with a gynaecologist, or if your bladder is involved too, a urogynaecologist – your GP will know who to refer you to.

      Janette what seems to wake you, is it discomfort in your leg? Has your back problem been addressed? What we do know is that pelvic floor problems can be much worse with back problems, as the pelvic floor muscles don’t work as effectively. I think that part of effective prolapse management includes managing back problems too, some women find that when their back problems are treated, their pelvic floor problems lessen.
      Kind regards

      • Janette Smith says

        Thank you Michelle
        Yes, the surgeon is a specialist in pelvic floor surgery, (the “net” implant) Re the back, it’s really only pain management .. Mobic, pan osteo etc, also I’ve had for 4 years Actonel. …. Think my bones pretty good despite osteopoaenia. … And I do Try to obey re gardening, housework etc but So hard as I love it and fairly flexible, tho not so good lately. The pain wakes me, Have had worse, but I believe it’s when one relaxes that it takes hold.But I am finding wandering pains and problems that just “happen” during the day, just appearing where they want to. I cope pretty well and Thankfully I love home. …each day is different, some good, until I forget and overdo things.
        I use Vagifem and have tried a pessary, ok, but as the Dr said, it hasn’t all gone…she’s the one concerned about the op and the effect on the back in theatre. I’m glad you like a 2nd opinion, as I don’t know which will be worse, the possible back problems or the other!Am too young at heart to appreciate either.!! I look forward to a word from you. Jan