Uterine Prolapse

What is Uterine Prolapse?

Uterine prolapse is characterized by the weakening of pelvic floor muscles. As a result, the uterus drops down into the vagina. When the condition is severe it can stick out. It can occur at any age, but it most often happens in postmenopausal women.

The pelvic floor muscles can weaken after one or more vaginal births. It is also caused by repetitive straining during bowel movements, frequent heavy lifting, a lack of estrogen and the gravitational effects of aging. The risk of a uterine prolapse increases with obesity, a lingering cough and/or chronic constipation.

What are the Symptoms of Uterine Prolapse?

The symptoms of a uterine prolapse depend on the severity of the condition.

Symptoms may include:

  • Heavy sensation in the pelvic region
  • Feeling of fullness in the vagina
  • Feeling of pulling within the pelvis
  • Sensation of sitting on a hard object
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Lumbar pain
  • Bowel movement difficulties
  • Unusual discharge
  • Uterus sticking out of the vagina
  • Loose vaginal muscles
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Recurring bladder infections
  • Gradually worsening symptoms as the day progresses

Uterine Prolapse Causes

Several factors can cause a prolapsed uterus. Anything that strains the muscle and connective tissue supporting the uterus for an extended period of time can lead to uterine prolapse. Pregnancy and labor are also causes of a prolapsed uterus. A large baby being born can also lead to a prolapsed uterus because it stretches the muscles.

The more pregnancies you have, the more likely you are to have a prolapsed uterus. If you’re overweight, this can strain the muscles and cause a prolapsed uterus. Even if you don’t have any of the before mentioned risk factors, a chronic cough or chronic constipation can weaken the muscles enough to cause problems.

Other concerns that can cause this are a family history and prior pelvic surgery causing weak muscles.

How is Uterine Prolapse Treated?

A minor uterine prolapse does not generally require treatment. It may not even cause symptoms. However, when left untreated it can result in sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder difficulties and uterus irritation.

Treatment also depends on whether the prolapse is complete or incomplete (protruding or not) and may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Constipation avoidance (high fiber diet, drinking plenty of water)
  • Stool softeners
  • Avoidance of heavy lifting
  • Improved lifting techniques
  • Treatment of underlying condition that causes a chronic cough
  • Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises)
  • Estrogen replacement therapy
  • Internal device for cervical support
  • Pelvic ligament reattachment surgery
  • Hysterectomy

Uterine Prolapse Prevention

Uterine prolapse is relatively simple to prevent. Kegel exercises are a vital part of preventing prolapse. Kegels help strengthen the pelvic floor which is what keeps the uterus in place. Aim for performing three sets of ten kegels daily. Kegels can be done very discreetly and just about anywhere.

Eating healthy, especially foods high in fiber and drinking plenty of fluids also prevents a prolapsed uterus. The fiber and fluids help to avoid constipation, which prevents extra wear and tear on the pelvic muscles. If you have a chronic cough, taking care of a cough will also prevent wear on those muscles.

If you’re overweight, losing weight will take the strain off muscles, helping to keep the uterus in the correct location. Heavy lifting can also put a strain on the pelvic muscles if you do heavy lifting a lot reducing or stopping the heavy lifting will help. If you have to lift, make sure you’re lifting with your legs instead of your back or your waist.

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