The word ‘prolapse’ literally means ‘to fall out of place’ and in the contribution to incontinence, can be the vagina, bladder, uterus or bowel. Caused by the stretching and damage of ligaments, one or more of these organs may drop, putting everything out of alignment and impacting function.
Prolapses generally occur due to extreme or ongoing strain and downward pressure including:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Persistent constipation
- Chronic coughing from smoking or lung disease
- Repetitive lifting of heavy weight (for example young children or gym)
Prolapse can cause stress incontinence as well as blockages and difficulty establishing and maintaining urine flow when voiding. It can also prevent the bladder from being completely emptied, a condition called Urinary Retention, which contributes to continence issues.
Preventative steps such pelvic floor exercises, improving bowel regularity, quitting smoking, improving core strength (with Pilates for example) and reducing weight will all help avoid a prolapse and may even assist in improving mild cases. However, in more extreme examples, surgery may be required to rectify the issue so if a prolapse is suspected, it’s best to see a doctor.
Research suggests women with diabetes are up to 70% more likely to experience urinary incontinence than women without the disease.