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Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and connective tissue that support the pelvic organs are weak or overstretched. Pelvic organ prolapse is most often associated with pregnancy and childbirth. A woman is 8 times more likely to experience prolapse after two vaginal births and 12 times more likely after 4 vaginal births. The strain on the muscles and connective tissue during childbirth stretches the tissue out and if they do not recover they can no longer support the pelvic organs. Hysterectomy, which is a surgery to remove the uterus, can also be associated with the prolapse of other pelvic organs because it leaves the other organs with less support.  Other risk factors for developing or worsening pelvic organ prolapse include obesity, chronic constipation or straining with bowel movements, a long lasting cough, smoking, pelvic tumors, pelvic surgery, neurological disorders, age, menopause, and family history.

How is pelvic organ prolapse treated?
There are many different treatment options available. Where treatment begins is based on which organs are prolapsed and how severe the symptoms are. In mild cases, treatment may be limited to lifestyle changes and exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor musculature. Physical therapy or biofeedback therapy may be recommended by the physician. In more significant cases a physician may recommend a pessary, which is a device that is inserted in the vagina to help support the pelvic organs.  In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.