What is the Vaginal Vault?

The vaginal vault is located at the internal end of the birth canal. Rather than looking like a tube, this part of the female anatomy is slightly enlarged. This area may slip forward, or prolapse and this condition requires medical treatment.

Normally, a woman's reproductive organs are supported by the uterosacral ligaments located at the top of her vagina. When these ligaments become weakened from multiple pregnancies or other causes, the uterus can fall into the vagina. Once the uterus has fallen, the weight of the organ pulls down on the vaginal vault and causes its walls to weaken as well.

A vaginal vault prolapse is a condition that can occur after a woman has had a hysterectomy. Approximately 10 percent of women who have had the surgical procedure, in which a surgeon removes the uterus and possibly the ovaries, experience it. Without the presence of the uterus to support the vaginal vault region, it's possible for the top part of the vagina to start slipping down toward its opening.

A prolapse can also occur after a woman has had several pregnancies. A vaginal delivery puts a strain on the ligaments in the vagina, as well as its tissues and the muscles located in this area of the body. If the woman is in labor for an extended time or the baby is a large one, the potential for weakening the structure of the vaginal vault increases.

As the top part of the vagina continues to slip, the walls of the birth canal can become weakened as well. If this condition is not treated, it can progress to the point that the vaginal vault is protruding from the body. When this situation occurs, the vagina has turned inside out in the same manner as a tube sock can when being removed from a person's foot.

When a vaginal vault prolapse occurs, surgery is the recommended treatment for women who are sexually active. Non-surgical treatments, such as electrical stimulation or biofeedback, can be used for patients who are not sexually active. They can also be tried for patients who do not wish to undergo surgery or who have a medical condition that does not make them a good candidate for surgery.

Electrical stimulation using a probe targets specific muscles in the vaginal area. A small amount of current is delivered, which causes the muscles to contract and become stronger. Biofeedback is used to help the woman learn how to use exercises to target and strengthen the muscles in the vaginal area.

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