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Vaginal prolapse

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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A prolapse (derived from the Latin term prolapsus 'a slipping forth’) is the falling, slipping or downward displacement of an organ or structure beyond its normal confines (1).

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or genital prolapse is a protrusion of one or more pelvic organs (bladder, rectum, uterus, vaginal vault, bowel) through vaginal fascia into the vagina and the downward displacement ('prolapse') of the associated vaginal wall from its normal location to or outside the vaginal opening (2).

POP can be classified according to the compartment affected:

  • anterior vaginal wall prolapse - urethrocele, cystocele
  • posterior vaginal wall prolapse - rectocele, enterocele
  • prolapse of the cervix or uterus
  • prolapse of the vaginal vault - which can only occur after prior hysterectomy.


  1. Haylen BT et al. An International Urogynecological Association (IUGA)/International Continence Society (ICS) joint report on the terminology for female pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Int Urogynecol J. 2016;27(4):655-84.
  2. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2008. Surgical repair of vaginal wall prolapse using mesh

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