What is a Uterine Prolapse?

Mary McMahon

A uterine prolapse is a medical condition which is caused by the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, causing a woman's uterus to slide into her vagina. If left untreated, this condition can be very dangerous, so it is important to seek medical treatment for the symptoms of a prolapse. There are a number of treatments which can be used to address the condition, depending on the individual patient, and the prognosis is very good when the prolapse is caught early.

Surgery may be required to treat a uterine prolapse.
Surgery may be required to treat a uterine prolapse.

People also refer to uterine prolapses as “fallen wombs” or “uterine hernias.” The most common symptoms include a sensation of heaviness or pulling in the pelvis; in extreme cases, a patient may be able to feel the uterus in her vagina, or see protruding tissue around her genitals. The condition is also characterized by painful intercourse. If the prolapse is severe, other organs may slide as well, including the bladder.

A physical exam may be used to diagnose uterine prolapse.
A physical exam may be used to diagnose uterine prolapse.

To diagnose a uterine prolapse, a doctor performs a physical exam, and he or she may use imaging studies such as MRIs to get a more general picture of the area. Depending on the severity of the prolapse, there are a number of approaches to treatment. Some women succeed with an internal supportive device called a pessary, which holds the uterus in place. Others require surgery or bedrest to treat the condition, and treatments may be required for associated problems like infections.

The uterus falls from its normal position in a uterine prolapse.
The uterus falls from its normal position in a uterine prolapse.

To prevent uterine prolapse, women should keep their pelvic floor muscles strong and healthy. The best way to improve muscle tone in your pelvic floor is to do Kegel exercises. To perform a Kegel, tense your muscles as though you are stopping a flow of urine, and hold them for a count of five before releasing. Kegels can be performed at any time throughout the day. Eating a balanced diet and refraining from smoking can also help to prevent uterine prolapse.

Women who have had multiple pregnancies or difficult births are more at risk for a uterine prolapse.
Women who have had multiple pregnancies or difficult births are more at risk for a uterine prolapse.

Women who have had multiple pregnancies or difficult births are more at risk for a uterine prolapse, as are older women who may experience a decrease in muscle tone. If you are at risk, your gynecologist may talk with you about the possibility of a prolapse and ways to avoid it. If you do suspect a prolapse, go to a doctor as soon as possible, as this will make the condition easier to treat and it will reduce the risk of complications.

The need for treating a dropped uterus is typically dependent on the degree of  prolapse.
The need for treating a dropped uterus is typically dependent on the degree of prolapse.
Smoking can increase the risk of a uterine prolapse.
Smoking can increase the risk of a uterine prolapse.
A uterine prolapse may be characterized by painful intercourse.
A uterine prolapse may be characterized by painful intercourse.
Bedrest may be needed to treat a uterine prolapse.
Bedrest may be needed to treat a uterine prolapse.
Women at risk of a uterine prolapse should seek the advice of a gynecologist.
Women at risk of a uterine prolapse should seek the advice of a gynecologist.

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Discussion Comments

KandDWshop

At postpartum checkup I was told my uterus has dropped, which after reading more I see it is probably a mild form of uterine prolapse (no symptoms). My ob/gyn had told me I could jog after two weeks but I waited at least 4 before easing back into it. could this be the cause of my prolapse? Is it related to pelvic pain I have had throughout my pregnancy and also when running? I would like to start increasing my running mileage but can this make uterine prolapse worse? Any information appreciated.

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