The uterus is one of the most important part of the female reproductive system. It is held in place with the help of a network of muscles and ligaments. When the uterus slips down from its position, it is called as uterine prolapse. Let’s learn more about this condition from the following paragraphs.
What is Uterine Prolapse?
When the muscles and ligaments that hold the uterus in place become weak and no longer support it, leads to a prolapse. The muscles and ligaments tend to stretch and become weak, causing the uterus to slip into the vagina from its normal position.
Uterine prolapse can occur as a complete prolapse or incomplete prolapse. A complete uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus falls down completely into the vagina, such that it is visible outside the vagina. Anincomplete uterine vagina is not so severe and partly slips into the vagina.
An incomplete or mild uterine prolapse does not usually require treatment. However, if the prolapse causes problems or makes it uncomfortable in daily life, treatment helps give some relief.
What Are The Symptoms of Uterine Prolapse?
Incomplete or mild uterine prolapse causes no symptoms. Thus, women with mild prolapse are usually unaware of the condition. It is usually their gynecologist who points out the condition during an examination. Moderate or complete prolapse causes the following symptoms:
- Feeling of heaviness or pressure on the vagina and pelvic region
- Pain in the abdomen, lower back and pelvis
- Painful intercourse
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- Unusual or excessive vaginal discharge
- Unusual or excessive vaginal bleeding
- Urinary problems like urine leakage or retention
- Feeling as if something is about to fall off your vagina
- Feeling as if you are sitting on a ball
- Recurrent bladder infections
The symptoms may worsen with standing or walking due to added pressure by gravity.
What Leads to Uterine Prolapse?
The most common cause of uterine prolapse is loss of muscle tone due to aging. Other common cause includes injury to the uterus or uterine muscles during childbirth. Women who have many vaginal deliveries or give birth to large babies are often prone to uterine prolapse. In some cases, chronic coughing, chronic constipation, etc. add extra pressure to the pelvic muscles. This causes them to weaken and lead to uterine prolapse.
Risk Factors For Uterine Prolapse
Women who have had more than one baby through normal vaginal delivery are more prone to uterine prolapse. Post-menopausal women are also at risk of a prolapse. The lack of hormone estrogen, during menopause, leads to weakening of pelvic muscles, also causing the uterus to slip into the birth canal.
How Is Uterine Prolapse Diagnosed?
Uterine prolapse is diagnosed after evaluating the symptoms. The doctor will perform a pelvic examination by inserting a speculum into the vagina for examining the vaginal canal and uterus. The doctor will feel for any bulges that occur due to prolapse into the vagina.
How Is Uterine Prolapse Treated?
Uterine prolapse is usually treated with the help of hysterectomy. However, if the patient is young and of childbearing age, then other surgical procedures are opted for. These include:
- Placing a vaginal pessary in the vagina to hold the uterus in place. The pessary can be removed every night and placed in the vagina every morning. This allows you to clean the pessary as well. This technique is used for mild to moderate uterine prolapse. In case of severe prolapse, the pessary is not recommended.
- A minimally invasive surgery can be performed to repair the tissue or insert a synthetic material into the weakened muscles or tissues to support the pelvic organs.
- Other surgical techniques like sacrohysteropexy or Manchester operation may be performed to save the uterus and hold it in place.
In case of mild prolapse, the doctor will recommend Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles. Also, maintain a healthy body weight and avoid lifting weights to avoid pressure on the pelvic muscles.
It is not always possible to prevent uterine prolapse. However, exercise regularly, maintain your body weight and keep practicing Kegel exercises to avoid weakening of the uterine muscles. Uterine prolapse can disrupt your daily life, as you always feel something is hanging between your thighs. Visit a gynecologist to get yourself examined and find a solution to your problem.
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 01, 2015