According to Voices for PFD, Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFD) affect “one out of four women 20 years or older.” It’s nerve-wracking to think that people suffer from pelvic related issues, but choosing to deal with these issues is important. Knowing the risks and preventative measures may help you or someone you know seek the guidance needed to alleviate pain and suffering. Among the four PFDs that women may experience, uterine prolapse is one of them.
What is Uterine Prolapse?
Uterine prolapse is when the pelvic floor stretches, leading to weakened muscles and ligaments that don’t allow for proper support of the uterus. The result of this weakness means the uterus has a chance to slip down and protrude outside the vagina.
There are quite a few different symptoms that women note when dealing with a prolapsed uterus. Common signs include:
- Heavy sensation in the pelvis
- Bulge near the vagina
- Urinary problems such as urinary incontinence
- Difficult bowel movements
- Lower back pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Frequent bladder infections
- Increase of vaginal discharge
- Difficult or painful intercourse
Mild cases of uterine prolapse don’t require a lot of treatments or therapies to get you back to living your best life. If symptoms worsen, most women will go on to utilize these five common treatment options:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises
- Therapy to replace estrogen
- Vaginal pessary
- Laparoscopic surgery
We suggest speaking with your provider on what treatment option is best for you and what you’re going through. Each prolapse is unique and therapies to alleviate pain may be different from one individual to another.
What are the Risk Factors?
While a prolapsed uterus can happen to a woman at any age, the risk of uterine prolapse increases as women age. Uterine prolapse most commonly affects postmenopausal women who have delivered their children vaginally.
Why does prolapse happen more for postmenopausal women? As a women ages, her estrogen levels end up decreasing at a significant rate. This drop in hormone levels causes damage to the pelvic muscles as estrogen (and progesterone) keep the pelvic region strong. Without these much-needed hormones, the pelvic muscles weaken and are no longer able to hold everything in place.
Another common cause for prolapse is when there's damage to the surrounding tissues from childbirth. As birthing children cause the pelvic region to stretch, potential damage to the muscles and soft tissue may occur.
There are several other reasons a woman could develop uterine prolapse. Some of these include:
- One or more pregnancies with vaginal births
- Birth to a large or heavy baby
- Difficult labor and delivery
- Lower estrogen or progesterone levels
- Previous pelvic surgery
- Chronic constipation
- Difficulty during bowel movements
- Chronic cough (bronchitis)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Family history of prolapse (or weakness in muscles and tissues)
How to Prevent a Prolapsed Uterus
Preventing uterine prolapse is almost impossible to do, but some efforts may lower your risk level. Preventing a prolapsed uterus may include these seven factors:
- Avoid Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco is not good for your system, and it’s recommended to decrease usage to prevent potential prolapse.
- Control Chronic Cough: In conjunction with tobacco usage, controlling a chronic cough or bronchitis may help.
- Avoid Constant Heavy Lifting: Learn to lift correctly through your legs rather than your back and waist.
- Exercise Regularly: It’s crucial to exercise often to strengthen your pelvic region.
- Strengthen Pelvic Muscles: Meet with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor disorders, as they will be able to show you exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvis to aid in the prevention of prolapse.
- Weight Management: Talk with your provider about ideal weight, management, and advice on healthy weight loss.
- Eat Healthier: Eating a diet that is high in fiber and whole grains will help you feel better both inside and out. It's also essential to drink lots of fluids in conjunction with a more nutritious diet!
How Can Metro OBGYN Help?
With the proper treatment routine, women who suffer from a prolapsed uterus may be able to return to a healthy, normal life and continue living their daily routines. While there is a chance for relapse, further treatment may be needed to improve your quality of life, but remember that you are not alone when it comes to prolapse!
Metro OBGYN is here to guide you through the process of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Schedule an appointment with one of our providers and find the right path to get back to living your best life.
Learn more about prolapse in our downloadable guide Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Restoring Normal Anatomy Without Transvaginal Mesh below!