Uterine prolapse is a condition that occurs when the muscles and tissue in your pelvis weaken. Your uterus drops down into your vagina. Sometimes, it comes out through your vaginal opening. Nearly half of all women between ages 50 and 79 have uterine prolapse, or some other form of pelvic organ prolapse
Many women with uterine prolapse have no symptoms. However, if symptoms start, they may include:
Leakage of urine
Feeling of heaviness or fullness in your pelvis
Bulging in your vagina
Aching, or the feeling of pressure, in your lower abdomen or pelvis
Who’s at risk
If you have given birth, you have the highest risk for uterine prolapse. If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you are more likely to develop uterine prolapse than if you’ve had a C-section. If you are menopausal, caucasian, overweight, or obese, you are also more likely to experience uterine prolapse. Smoking is another factor that increases your risk.
If your doctor suspects that you have a prolapsed uterus, he or she will probably perform a physical examination to check for irregularities in your pelvis. If you're also having problems like urinary incontinence or a feeling of incomplete emptying of your bladder, your doctor may perform a procedure called a cystoscopy to examine your bladder and urethra.
Your physician might also order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This procedure uses a magnet and radio waves to create images. This will allow your doctor to get a good look at your kidneys and other pelvic organs.
If your uterine prolapse symptoms bother you or keep you from feeling comfortable during everyday activities, talk with your doctor about treatment options. Lifestyle changes, like losing weight, may help. So can a regular routine of Kegel exercises. These strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. To perform a Kegel exercise, you squeeze the muscles you use to control the flow of urine, and hold for up to 10 seconds before releasing. Aim for 50 repetitions a day.
A pessary can provide relief from the symptoms of uterine prolapse. This is a device your doctor inserts into your vagina to support your pelvic organs.
A vaginal hysterectomy is a type of surgery your doctor may recommend. In this procedure, your doctor removes your uterus through your vagina. The healing time is faster. There also are fewer complications than with traditional hysterectomy, which requires an abdominal incision
A hysterectomy for uterine prolapse carries the risks that all surgery has. This includes the chance of bleeding, infection, injury to the body area involved (in this case, the urinary tract), and problems related to anesthesia.
There is no surefire way to prevent uterine prolapse. However, you can lower your risk by:
Losing weight if you’re overweight
Following a diet rich in fiber and fluids to prevent constipation and straining
Avoiding heavy lifting
Seeking prompt treatment for a chronic cough, which can place extra pressure on your pelvic organs
Regularly performing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
These strategies may also help if you have already developed uterine prolapse.
Consult your doctor when uterine prolapse symptoms first start to bother you. Don’t wait until your discomfort becomes severe. Regular pelvic exams can help detect uterine prolapse in its early stages.
How to manage or live with the condition
Surgery is an option, but not always necessary. Medical devices, exercises, and lifestyle changes can sometimes provide relief from bothersome symptoms.
- Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
- Jones, Niya, MD, MPH