When you hear about uterine prolapse, you may think it's a condition that only post-menopausal or older women have to worry about. While it's true that many women who experience uterine prolapse do fit into those categories, young women are not exempt from developing the condition.
What is uterine prolapse?
Prolapse of the uterus occurs when the pelvic floor becomes weak. This is typically the result of stretched and weakened ligaments and muscles. When the pelvic floor is unable to support the weight of the uterus, the uterus prolapses into the vagina.
What causes uterine prolapse?
In women of any age, the strain of pregnancy and childbirth can cause the pelvic floor to weaken, especially following multiple pregnancies. Women who suffer from autoimmune diseases, such as connective tissue disease, may be more susceptible to uterine prolapse.
Repeatedly straining to have a bowel movement, due to chronic constipation, may lead to weakening of the ligaments and muscles. Strain caused from repeated lifting of heavy objects can also weaken the muscles supporting the pelvic floor.
In older women, lower estrogen levels in the post-menopausal years can lead to thinning of the ligaments and muscle tissue.
Obesity can cause prolapse due to excessive weight in the abdominal area. Chronic medical conditions that cause excessive coughing, such as COPD or bronchitis, can increase your chances of developing the condition.
What are the symptoms of uterine prolapse?
In cases of slight prolapse, you may not experience any symptoms. If the condition is moderate, you may experience back pain, urine leakage or retention, difficulty having a bowel movement, a feeling or sensation of pressure in the vaginal area, or discomfort during sexual intercourse.
In severe cases, you may also notice a bulge protruding from the opening of the vagina or feel a lump in the vaginal canal.
Treatment for uterine prolapse
Mild prolapse may not require any treatment. If your symptoms are bothersome, your OB-GYN doctor may recommend you perform Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. You may also be given the option of wearing a pessary device to hold the uterus in place.
If your symptoms are severe, your OB-GYN doctor may recommend surgery to repair the prolapse. Hysterectomy may be necessary in severe cases to relieve symptoms.
If you suspect you have signs of uterine prolapse, you should consult your OB-GYN doctor for an evaluation. It caught early, you may only need to make some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or performing Kegel exercises.
Even moderate or severe prolapse can usually be treated with surgery. With the proper treatment, uterine prolapse is treatable and isn't likely to interfere with the quality of your future life. For more information, talk to a professional like Wooster Obstetrics and Gynecology Inc.