Pelvic relaxation is a weakening of the supportive muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor which causes the pelvic floor to sag and press into the wall of the vagina. The pelvic floor normally holds the uterus and the bladder in position above the vagina. These organs can sag into the vagina, sometimes bulging out through the vaginal opening. While this condition is not generally considered life threatening, it can cause women pain and/or discomfort until corrected.
Severe pelvic relaxation can cause the following symptoms:
- Groin or lower back pain
- An aching sensation in the vagina or lower abdomen
- The feeling as if something is "falling out" of the vagina
- Urinary incontinence
- Frequent bladder infections
- Difficulty having a bowel movement
When the uterus is no longer sufficiently supported by the pelvic wall, it can cause the uterus to sag into the vagina. This condition can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, the sagging may be visible through the vaginal opening.
A cystocele occurs when the wall between the bladder and vagina is damaged. When a cystocele becomes advanced, the bulge may become visible outside the vaginal opening. The visible tissue is the weakened vaginal wall; the bladder is right behind the skin but cannot be seen. The symptoms caused by cystoceles can include vaginal bulging or pressure, slowing of the urinary stream, overactive bladder symptoms, and an inability to fully empty the bladder.
The “Bulging Rectum” is formed when the normally flat lower vaginal wall loses its support, allowing the rectum to bulge upward. This creates an extra pouch in the normally straight rectal tube. Rectoceles cause symptoms related to incomplete emptying of stool. Even a minor rectocele bulge may cause difficulty with bowel movements. Larger rectoceles can bulge right through the vaginal opening and look like a cystocele, although in this case it is the lower vaginal wall accounting for the bulge.
These conditions are caused by straining muscles in the pelvic region. It may happen during childbirth, as well as activities that require heavy lifting or even straining related to constipation. This issue can also arise during menopause when estrogen levels are low, as estrogen is a hormone that keeps pelvic muscles strong.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions, and would like to discuss treatment options with your physician, feel free to call our office to schedule an appointment.