What Is a Prolapsed Womb?

Amanda Barnhart

A prolapsed womb occurs when the uterus drops into the vagina due to weak pelvic muscles and loss of support. The condition is not usually serious and often does not require medical treatment. Common causes of a prolapsed womb include delivery problems or delivering a large baby, pelvic muscle weakness due to age, chronic coughing, frequent constipation, and obesity.

A prolapsed womb occurs when the uterus drops into the vagina due to weak pelvic muscles and loss of support.
A prolapsed womb occurs when the uterus drops into the vagina due to weak pelvic muscles and loss of support.

Women who experience a mild prolapsed womb may have few or no symptoms. This occurs when the cervix just drops slightly into the vagina. If the entire uterus slides down into the vaginal canal, the patient may experience more severe symptoms. Treatment is generally only necessary for women who have symptoms severe enough to cause problems or difficulties with their everyday lives. Common symptoms include a feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area, difficulty or pain with sexual intercourse, trouble urinating or having a bowel movement, a feeling of a foreign object protruding out of the vagina, chronic bladder infections, and low back pain.

In rare, extreme cases, a prolapsed womb can lead to potentially serious complications. Some women develop vaginal sores or ulcers if the womb forces some of the inner vaginal tissue outside the opening of the vagina. The weak pelvic muscles that lead to a prolapsed womb can cause other organs to prolapse as well. A prolapsed bladder or rectum can lead to serious urinary or bowel problems.

Doctors are usually able to diagnose a prolapsed womb through a simple physical examination. Women are often examined in different positions and asked to squeeze their pelvic muscles periodically during the examination so the doctor can assess the degree of muscle weakness or damage. In some cases, women undergo imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to help the doctor determine the severity of the condition.

Many women with a prolapsed womb or uterus are able to manage their symptoms through lifestyle changes and home treatment methods. Avoiding heavy lifting and straining during urination and bowel movements helps prevent further damage to the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises isolate the muscles responsible for holding the uterus in place and help strengthen them when performed regularly.

Sometimes, the condition does require medical treatment. Women who experience severe symptoms may be fitted for a vaginal pessary. This device fits inside the vaginal canal and holds the womb in place to prevent pain, pressure, and urinary problems.

Surgery to correct a prolapsed womb is usually done as a last resort, and it is not an option for all women. Doctors can repair the prolapsed uterus through small incisions in the abdomen or through the vagina. Repair typically involves a tissue graft to help strengthen the pelvic muscles. A hysterectomy permanently corrects the problem by removing the uterus completely, though this is not an option for women who plan to have more children.

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