- When to See the Doctor
What is a prolapsed uterus?
The uterus is usually held in place by a group of muscles and ligaments. Sometimes this support structure fails, releasing the hold it has on the uterus. When this happens, the floor of the uterus bulges out and sags downward, causing the condition called uterine prolapse. Sometimes the uterus can sag all the way out of your vaginal opening, which is called a complete uterine prolapse.
Women who have given birth many times through vaginal delivery are at high risk of having a prolapsed uterus. Some doctors say up to half of all women develop uterine prolapse during the years after childbirth. However, very few of them seek medical treatment for the symptoms of this condition.
Since mild cases of a prolapsed uterus don’t show any symptoms, it is easy for someone not to notice anything wrong. Even so, there are times when the condition presents in a more advanced way, showing a number of signs and symptoms. You may first notice symptoms after standing or sitting for a long time.
Signs and symptoms of a prolapsed uterus
You will not always notice symptoms if you have a prolapsed uterus. For those with a uterus that has collapsed farther into the vaginal canal, noticeable symptoms are more likely. Typical signs of a uterine prolapse are:
- Pressure or heaviness in the vaginal area: You may feel as if something is about to fall from the vagina.
- Discomfort in the vagina, lower abdomen, groin, or lower back: You may experience a pulling or aching sensation that gets worse during sexual intercourse or periods.
- Problems with sexual intercourse: These include pain, urine leakage during sex, or an inability to have an orgasm.
- Leakage of urine: If some urine leaks out when you cough, sneeze, or lift a heavy object, it could be a sign of uterine prolapse.
Causes of a prolapsed uterus
A prolapsed uterus is caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles and tissues that are unable to support the weight of the uterus. These muscles can be weakened by a number of factors including:
Being overweight doubles your risk of developing a prolapsed uterus.
Disorders of the pelvic floor, including uterine prolapse, are more common among women who have had at least one baby through vaginal birth.
Coughing causes the pelvic floor to move downwards and may worsen prolapse symptoms. Some doctors say that smoking can cause a chronic cough, which may apply pressure on the organs that rely on the pelvic floor for support.
When to see the doctor for a prolapsed uterus
Call your doctor right away if you need to push your fingers into your vagina, into your rectum, or to push against the skin near your vagina in order to empty your bladder or have a bowel movement. If a prolapsed uterus has progressed that far, it likely needs medical treatment.
In worse cases, if a bulge of moist pink tissue protrudes from the vagina, you should get medical attention to prevent the exposed tissue from becoming irritated.
Diagnosing a prolapsed uterus
When you visit the doctor about the condition, they will most likely conduct a pelvic exam. You may be asked to squat to the bowel movement position in order for the doctor to check how far down your uterus has dropped. Your doctor may do a cystoscopy, a procedure that examines your bladder and urethra especially if you feel like you cannot empty your bladder.
Treatments for a prolapsed uterus
One study found that smoking causes chronic respiratory diseases and higher abdominal pressure, a factor that increases the risk of a prolapsed uterus. If you smoke, trying to quit or reduce smoking will help the severity of coughing, which can worsen uterine prolapse.
This is a flexible device that the doctor places in the vagina to hold the uterus in place. If your doctor recommends this treatment, ask them about the side effects before proceeding.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also called Kegel exercises, can help strengthen the muscles supporting the uterus. This approach tends to be most effective in more mild cases of uterine prolapse.
Doing pelvic floor exercises involves squeezing the muscles you use to prevent yourself from passing urine. Hold the contraction for 5 to 10 seconds, breathing normally, then release. Relax your pelvic floor muscles completely after the contraction. Repeat this routine with 10 contractions, 5 times a day.
Only in advanced cases would your doctor suggest this treatment option. Be prepared to talk about your future plans to retain vaginal function or get pregnant.
- Your Child Is Sick. Do You Call Your Doctor or Head to the ER?
- Mental Health Care Shortage Could Play Role in U.S. Youth Suicides
- Shopping Black Friday for TVs, Furniture? Don't Forget the Tip-Over Kit
- Keeping Thanksgiving Day Kitchens Safe for the Whole Family
- All the Flavor, Better Health: Holiday Dinner Ingredient Swaps That Work
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Dignity Health: "Prolapsed uterus."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Uterine And Bladder Prolapse."
International Urogynecology Journal: "Risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse and its recurrence: a systematic review."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Uterine Prolapse."
Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Effect of Weight Change on Natural History of Pelvic Organ Prolapse."
Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Pelvic Floor Disorders 5-10 Years After Vaginal or Cesarean Childbirth."
Victoria State Government Better Health Channel: "Prolapsed uterus."
Top How Do You Know if You Have a Prolapsed Uterus Related Articles
Childbirth Delivery Methods and TypesThere are various childbirth delivery methods and types such as the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, water birth, and assisted births. Options for where a woman can deliver her baby include home birth, a birthing center, and a hospital. The method and type of labor and delivery options should be discussed with a woman's doctor.
Chronic CoughChronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease.
Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
Female Screening TestsWhat is a health screening? Why is it important to know your blood pressure? How long will your health screening take? Learn about wellness screenings for women for breast cancer, HIV, diabetes, osteoporosis, skin cancer, and more.
Labor Symptoms (Early Signs)Every woman's experience with labor and delivery is unique for each woman, and thus "Normal" labor varies from woman to woman. Some of the common signs and symptoms of normal labor include the "baby dropping," increase urination, back pain, contractions, and diarrhea.
How Do You Fix a Prolapsed Uterus?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your prolapsed uterus symptoms and speed up your prolapsed uterus recovery.
Labor and DeliveryEarly and later symptoms and signs of labor and delivery are unique to each woman. Early signs of labor are "lightning" and passing the mucus plug. Later symptoms and signs that labor that labor is are the woman's water breaking, and when contractions begin. There are three stages of labor, stage 1 is the longest and occurs when the cervix begins to thin and dilate. During stage 2 of labor the baby passes through the birth canal and remains there until delivery, and stage 3, is when the baby is delivered.
Obesity and OverweightObesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy Changes and Body Discomforts
Pregnancy can bring challenges like
- weight gain,
- stretch marks,
- varicose veins,
- problems sleeping, and
- wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant.
Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and MoreMultiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization using fertility drugs. Women carrying multiples often give birth via C-section.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Pregnancy: Birthing, Breastfeeding, and Parenting ClassesPreparing for a baby is an important step in parents' lives. Choosing the right birthing class and method (Lamaze, Bradley, etc.) is important for the mother, baby, and father or support giver. Parenting classes are also information for first time parents. Information is provided about diapering, feeding, and bathing your baby as well as the different stages of child development.
What Can I Take for a Cough While Pregnant?Seasonal flu, colds, and allergies are common ailments affecting most people all round the year. You must always be cautious of any medication that you take. This is especially true in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, given the effects these drugs may have on the unborn or breastfed child.
When Should I Take Birthing Classes During Pregnancy?Birthing classes are generally recommended in the last three months (last trimester) of pregnancy. You may, however, enroll in a birthing class anytime during pregnancy. Some women feel that joining a birthing class early in the pregnancy gives them enough time to learn, adapt, and prepare for the delivery. Early registration also gives the advantage of choosing the dates and time schedules according to individual preferences.
Women's health is an important topic area to guide a woman through the stages of her life, as well as knowing the conditions and diseases that may occur. Educating yourself so that the transitions into different phases of life is key to a healthy, happy, and productive life.