Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Zoey Sky
An enterocele, or a vaginal hernia, occurs when the small intestine (small bowel) descends into the lower pelvic cavity and pushes at the top part of the vagina and creates a bulge.
It is also called a small bowel prolapse. The word “prolapse” means something slips or falls out of place.
Known side effects of an enterocele
In some cases, patients with mild enteroceles do not experience any side effects. However, individuals with a significant prolapse might have these symptoms:
- Dyspareunia (Vaginal discomfort and painful intercourse)
- A feeling of pelvic fullness, pressure, or pain
- A pulling sensation in the pelvis that stops when you lie down
- Low back pain that stops when you lie down
- A soft bulge in the tissue in the vagina
Most women with enteroceles may also experience prolapse of other pelvic organs like the bladder, rectum, or uterus.
Risk factors that increase the risk of developing enteroceles include:
- Age — Enteroceles and other types of pelvic organ prolapse occur more often in older women. As you age, you often lose muscle mass and muscle strength in the pelvic and other muscles.
- Connective tissue disorders — Individuals are genetically prone to prolapse if they have weaker connective tissues in the pelvic area. This makes you more susceptible to enteroceles and other types of pelvic organ prolapse.
- Increased abdominal pressure — Being overweight increases pressure inside the abdomen, and this increases the risk of developing enteroceles. Other factors that increase pressure include a chronic or ongoing cough and straining during bowel movements.
- Pelvic surgery — A hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or surgical procedures that treat incontinence may increase the risk of developing enteroceles.
- Pregnancy and childbirth — Natural or vaginal delivery of one or more children weakens the pelvic floor support structures and increases the risk of prolapse. The more pregnancies you have, the greater your risk of developing any type of pelvic organ prolapse. Women who only gave birth via cesarean sections have a lower risk of developing prolapse.
- Race — It is unknown why Hispanic and white women are at higher risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse.
- Smoking — Smoking is connected to the risk of developing prolapse because smokers often cough, which increases abdominal pressure.
Body systems harmed by an enterocele
Enteroceles are often addressed with reconstructive pelvic surgery. However, this procedure is often linked to the following complications:
- Cardiovascular events
- Damage to the bladder, bowel, and ureters
- An infection at the site of operation
- Thromboembolism — The formation of a clot/thrombus in the blood vessel that breaks loose. The clot may be carried by the bloodstream to plug a different vessel.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent an enterocele
The following foods or nutrients can help prevent an enterocele:
- Comfrey leaf — An herb used to heal tissue, comfrey leaf promotes cell regeneration. Tea made from comfrey leaf is used for healing purposes. Additionally, comfrey leaf can be used to make salve which can be used intravaginally.
- Horse chestnut — Horse chestnut is used as an ingredient for a toning cream. Used for varicose veins, this toning cream can also be used for prolapse.
- Horsetail — This herb is also called shavegrass and it can help address several bladder and kidney problems like prolapse. The silicon content of horsetail helps build the cells. Horsetail can also help with kidney and bladder stones, along with infections and inflammation in the urinary system.
- Red raspberry leaf — Red raspberry leaf is a female tonic that has been used for centuries. It can help tone the pelvic organs. Drink red raspberry leaf tea daily to minimize the symptoms of prolapse.
Treatments, management plans for an enterocele
Enteroceles usually don’t require treatment, especially if the symptoms aren’t bothersome. Surgery may be required in patients with an advanced prolapse that has troublesome symptoms.
Nonsurgical approaches are another option if you wish to avoid surgery, if surgery is too dangerous for your health, or if you want to give birth in the future.
Treatment options for enteroceles include:
- Observation — If the prolapse only has a handful or no obvious symptoms, treatment is not required. Self-care measures, like performing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles, can soothe symptoms. Do not lift heavy objects and eat a balanced diet to avoid constipation, which will reduce the likelihood of aggravating your prolapse.
- Pessaries –– A pessary is a plastic, rubber, or silicone device inserted into the vagina to support the bulging tissue. Pessaries are available in various styles and sizes and some trial and error may be required when finding the one suited for your enterocele.
- Surgery — The procedure to repair the enterocele may be done through the vagina or abdomen. A surgeon, who may operate with or without robotic assistance, will maneuver the prolapsed small bowel back into place. They will also tighten the connective tissue of the pelvic floor. When necessary, small portions of synthetic mesh will be used to help support weakened tissues.
Where to learn more
An enterocele, or small bowel prolapse, occurs when the small intestine (small bowel) descends into the lower pelvic cavity and pushes at the top part of the vagina and creates a bulge. The word “prolapse” means something slips or falls out of place.
Individuals with a significant prolapse might have symptoms such as dyspareunia (vaginal discomfort and painful intercourse); a feeling of pelvic fullness, pressure, or pain; or a pulling sensation in the pelvis that stops when you lie down.
Risk factors that increase the risk of developing enteroceles include age, connective tissue disorders, increased abdominal pressure, pelvic surgery, pregnancy and childbirth, race, and smoking.
Comfrey leaf, horse chestnut, horsetail, and red raspberry leaf can help prevent an enterocele.
Treatment options for enteroceles include observation, pessaries, and surgery.