Gravity Got You Down?
Not Enough Support
Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles and ligaments that make up the pelvic floor stretch and weaken. The uterus begins to descend from the pelvis into the vaginal canal, since there is no longer adequate support to hold it in place.
Uterine prolapse tends to affect women who have had one or two vaginal births and have gone through menopause. A number of factors contribute to the condition, for instance, damage to the supportive tissues sustained during pregnancy and birth, the effects of gravity, repeated straining and lifting over a number of years, and postmenopausal loss of estrogen. Women of Northern European descent tend to have this condition more often than do women of African or Asian descent.
Mild uterine prolapse may not need treatment, but if you’re uncomfortable or the condition impacts on normal life, you may want to consider available treatment options, such as a supportive device, or corrective surgery.
The symptoms of moderate to severe uterine prolapse include:
Urge incontinence (urine leakage or loss)
Lower back pain
A feeling of heaviness or a pulling sensation
A feeling that you’re sitting on something or that something is falling out
Symptoms that worsen as the day goes on
Risk factors include:
Pregnancy and vaginal births
Delivery of a large baby
Lifting heavy items often
Straining during bowel movements
Conditions that place a strain on the muscles and connective tissues of the pelvic floor, such as obesity, chronic constipation, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Your doctor will diagnose uterine prolapse based on a pelvic examination during which you may be asked to cough or bear down. Ultrasound or MRI may be used to help evaluate your condition.
The complications of uterine prolapse include:
Ulceration of the vaginal lining, which may lead to infected sores
The prolapse of other pelvic organs such as the bladder or rectum
Slow it Down
It’s possible to slow the progression of uterine prolapse by making lifestyle changes including losing weight, stopping smoking, and getting proper treatment for medical conditions which may contribute to uterine prolapse.
Treatments for uterine prolapse include:
Exercise to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, such as Kegel exercises.
The use of a vaginal pessary; a device that holds the uterus in place. Your doctor will need to fit you for the device.
Surgical repair-You may be a good candidate for surgical repair of uterine prolapse if you’re finished bearing children and are otherwise healthy.