is uterine prolapse?
uterine prolapse, your uterus moves from its normal position down
into your vagina. The uterus may be only slightly out of position,
or it may descend so far that it can be seen outside the vagina.
does it occur?
prolapse occurs when your muscles and ligaments are weakened or
stretched so that they no longer hold the uterus in place. Often
this is the result of childbirth or normal aging. Another cause
of uterine prolapse is an inherent weakness of the support systems
of your uterus and vagina, which may be inherited. The prolapse
can be worsened by being overweight, coughing, straining to move
your bowels, and lifting heavy objects.
are the symptoms?
mild prolapse, you may not have any symptoms, even though the opening
to your uterus (cervix) may be sagging down into your vagina. With
moderate prolapse, you may have a heavy sensation in your lower
abdomen, or you may feel as if you are sitting on a ball. You also
may feel low back pain and lower abdominal discomfort. The pain
and discomfort may get worse after you have been standing a long
time. You may feel pain when you have sexual intercourse.
severe prolapse, the uterus may feel like a large lump in the vagina
or may even be visible from the outside. Some women with prolapse
experience urine leakage when they lift, cough, or laugh. Others
have difficulty urinating. Also, difficulty moving the bowels is
is it diagnosed?
doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a pelvic exam. What
is the treatment? One way to treat uterine prolapse is with a pessary.
Pessaries are plastic, doughnut-shaped devices that are inserted
into your vagina to push up your uterus. There are different types.
Some are put into the vagina and then filled with air or water.
Another way to treat uterine prolapse is with a vaginal hysterectomy
(surgical removal of the uterus through the vagina), along with
tightening of the support ligaments.
can I take care of myself?
can be done to improve a prolapsed uterus:
- If you are overweight,
lose weight and try to maintain your ideal weight.
- Eat high-fiber
foods so that you will be able to move your bowels without straining.
- Strengthen your pelvic muscles by alternately contracting and
relaxing them as though trying to stop a flow of urine in midstream
- Avoid wearing tight girdles or other garments
that put pressure on your abdomen.
- Avoid frequent heavy lifting.
long will the effects of uterine prolapse last?
only permanent way to fix uterine prolapse is through surgery. Wearing
a pessary will correct it temporarily.
can be done to help prevent uterine prolapse?
the pelvic muscles (as in Kegel exercises) after childbirth may
prevent some cases of uterine prolapse. Avoid frequent heavy lifting.
B. McWilliams, MD
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