Uterine prolapse occurs when pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken and no longer provide enough support for the uterus. As a result, the uterus slips down into or protrudes out of the vagina.
Uterine prolapse can occur in women of any age. But it often affects postmenopausal women who’ve had one or more vaginal deliveries.
Mild uterine prolapse usually doesn’t require treatment. But if uterine prolapse makes you uncomfortable or disrupts your normal life, you might benefit from treatment.
Mild uterine prolapse generally doesn’t cause signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe uterine prolapse include:
Often, symptoms are less bothersome in the morning and worsen as the day goes on.
See your doctor to discuss your options if signs and symptoms of uterine prolapse become bothersome and disrupt your normal activities.
Uterine prolapse results from the weakening of pelvic muscles and supportive tissues. Causes of weakened pelvic muscles and tissues include:
Factors that can increase your risk of uterine prolapse include:
Uterine prolapse is often associated with prolapse of other pelvic organs. You might experience:
Severe uterine prolapse can displace part of the vaginal lining, causing it to protrude outside the body. Vaginal tissue that rubs against clothing can lead to vaginal sores (ulcers.) Rarely, the sores can become infected.
To reduce your risk of uterine prolapse, try to:
A diagnosis of uterine prolapse generally occurs during a pelvic exam.
During the pelvic exam your doctor is likely to ask you:
You might fill out a questionnaire that helps your doctor assess how uterine prolapse affects your quality of life. This information helps guide treatment decisions.
If you have severe incontinence, your doctor might recommend tests to measure how well your bladder functions (urodynamic testing).
Treatment depends on the severity of uterine prolapse. Your doctor might recommend:
Your doctor might recommend surgery to repair uterine prolapse. Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) or vaginal surgery might be an option.
Surgery can involve:
Talk with your doctor about all your treatment options to be sure you understand the risks and benefits of each so that you can choose what’s best for you.
Depending on the severity of your uterine prolapse, self-care measures may provide relief. Try to:
Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. A strong pelvic floor provides better support for your pelvic organs, prevents prolapse from worsening and relieves symptoms associated with uterine prolapse.
Kegel exercises may be most successful when they’re taught by a physical therapist and reinforced with biofeedback. Biofeedback involves using monitoring devices that help ensure you’re tightening the muscles properly for the best length of time.
Once you’ve learned the proper method, you can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about any time, whether you’re sitting at your desk or relaxing on the couch.