Symptoms and diagnosis

Understanding pelvic organ prolapse

A woman’s pelvis contains her bladder, uterus, rectum and vagina. A group of muscles, tissue and ligaments — called the pelvic floor — supports these organs. Pelvic organ prolapse happens if pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch or become weak or shift out of place resulting in pressure or a bulge from the vagina.

Pelvic organ prolapse is not life-threatening but can be painful and cause symptoms that affect your quality of life.

Doctors can diagnose pelvic organ prolapse by doing a physical exam. Sometimes other tests are needed. At UW Health, we offer the most advanced tests to diagnose pelvic health problems.


Fact sheet on pelvic organ prolapse


Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can include:

Chronic straining or pushing to have a bowel movement.

A lump in the vagina or a lump coming out of the vaginal opening.

Pressure or heaviness in the pelvic area.

Difficulty when starting to urinate or a weak or spraying stream of urine.

Meet our team

Experts in women’s health

Our team has the highest level of training and all have special experience in women’s pelvic conditions.

Our team includes experts in:

  • Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (Fellowship-trained in gynecology and urology)

  • Colorectal surgery (Fellowship-trained)

  • Gastroenterology (Fellowship-trained)

  • Physical Therapists specially trained in the Pelvic Floor

  • Advanced Practice Providers with advanced training in the Pelvic Floor

Treatments and research

Treatment so you can feel your best

Many women with pelvic prolapse or discomfort are unsure where to seek treatment. Others assume it’s a normal part of aging. But pelvic organ prolapse is common, treatable and not something you have to live with.

Each woman is different. The team at UW Health will work with you to develop a treatment plan that’s just right for you. In most cases, we’ll start with exercises and lifestyle changes. If surgery is needed, we offer minimally invasive surgical options.

Non-surgical treatments

Your doctor may recommend eating more fiber. They may also suggest you avoid straining or heavy lifting.

Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can be done at home. In many cases, they will recommend working with our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to learn the best methods of improving your pelvic floor.

Your doctor may recommend a pessary device. This device is inserted into the vagina and supports your pelvic organs.

Surgical treatments

  • Repair of the vaginal wall to decrease vaginal bulge or pressure

  • Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) with repair of vaginal walls to resupport the vagina

  • Repair of the rectum or bowel for prolapse or accidental bowel leakage

  • Vaginal closure (colpocleisis)


Unique care close to home

UW Health’s Women’s Pelvic Wellness Clinic in Madison is the only program of its kind in Wisconsin to include Colorectal Surgery as well as Gastroenterology. Our doctors all specialize in women’s health and work together under one roof. At our clinic, we offer testing and treatment in one place.

Patient and support services

More ways we can help

About the Pelvic Wellness Clinic

The Women's Pelvic Wellness program at UW Health brings together the expertise of physicians from different specialties to provide comprehensive care for women.