What Is A Uterine Prolapse?

A uterine prolapse is when the uterus has descended from it’s normal position in the pelvis further down into the vagina. This happens when the tissues that support it become too weak that the uterus cannot stay in place. The uterus or womb is usually held in place by muscles, tissue and ligaments.

You're more prone to getting this sort of prolapse the older you are and the more pregnancies you've had.

Uterine prolapse can cause symptoms like:

* A feeling of something coming down or out of the vagina.

* An unnatural feeling of fullness in your pelvic area.

* Pain or difficulty making love.

* Urinary Stress Incontinence: leaking a small amount of urine when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise.

Uterine prolapse is diagnosed by degrees. There are 3 degrees of prolapse:

In first-degree prolapse the uterus moves down into the vagina but the cervix still remains inside the vagina.

In second-degree prolapse the cervix passes out through the introitus or vulva (opening of the vagina).

In third-degree prolapse the whole of the uterus is outside the vagina.

How is Prolapse of the Uterus Treated?

Mild cases of prolapse may not need treatment. Lifestyle changes such as keeping a healthy BMI and Kegals (pelvic floor exercises) may be recommended instead.

More severe cases of prolapse may be treated effectively using a special device that is inserted into the vagina called a vaginal pessary. This helps to hold the uterus in place. There are also several different surgical techniques that can be used. This sometimes includes major surgery such as hysterectomy.

Apparently, uterine prolapse is the reason for having a hysterectomy in 20% of all hysterectomies performed in the United States.

How Does A Woman Recover After Having A Prolapsed Uterus?

Your Gynecologist will give you detailed recommendations as it completely depends on what treatment you've had. But generally by taking it easy, getting plenty of rest. That means not being on your feet all day. Standing up all day will means that gravity will lead to you having a feeling of ‘something falling out’ in your pelvic area.

This can happen even after a natural birth. Especially if you’ve had several pregnancies. I say “pregnancies” and not babies as one can get the same results even after miscarriages. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy.

What can be done to avoid a prolapsed uterus?

1) To avoid a prolapse of your uterus it’s really important to do your Kegal exercises. This means all the time, not just when you're pregnant or nursing a new baby. It’s important for all women to practise ‘Pelvic Floor” or Kegal exercises, at any age, to keep the muscles of your pelvic floor area toned and strong. This helps prevent prolapse of the uterus and bladder and prevents or reduces urinary incontinence too.

2) Try to keep a healthy BMI, i.e. don’t get overweight or obese.

3) Avoid long term constipation as this can lead to prolapse after a few years. So eat plenty of roughage, fruit and vegetables and DRINK 7-8 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated.

4) Be careful when lifting heavy objects. Ask someone to help you.

5) In labor, aim to not push until your baby has come well down the birth canal AND you actually have an irresistible urge to push. Your contractions will be moving the baby down for you, so save your energy and prevent prolapse by breathing through contractions. Push when your body tells you to.

If you have an epidural you are more at risk of a prolapse later on as you may not be able to feel when to push. Ideally it’s best not to hold your breath and push till you’re blue in the face! Some health care providers may tell you to “take a deep breath, hold it and push, push, push until you run out of breath”. This is NOT what I’d advise you to do. Controlled breathing and prolonged pushing is not good for you or your baby.

Remember that signs and symptoms of uterine prolapse may not appear until you're nearing middle age or later. Doing your kegals now and following our other tips will help reduce your chances of having a prolapse.

For first-aid help with Uterine Prolapse go to my first aid for prolapse page.

Pictures of 'Prolapsed Uterus'

If you want to see some photo's of prolapsed wombs and get more information, check out Women's Surgery Center here.

Read more about Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Treatments to Avoid

Read about Transvaginal Mesh Organ Perforation here

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