A uterine prolapse is characterised by the uterus moving out of place and dropping down into the vagina due to the surrounding ligaments and pelvic floor muscles weakening and no longer being able to support the uterus sufficiently. There are a number of reasons a uterine prolapse can occur, such as hormonal changes in menopause impacting ligament health, vaginal delivery, trauma during childbirth and chronic constipation. Those who have a family history of prolapses, have undergone pelvic surgery or have had children later in life are at an increased risk of developing uterine prolapse.
Symptoms Of Uterine Prolapse
Symptoms of uterine prolapse can vary, and you may not experience every symptom, but common symptoms include a heavy feeling in the pelvic area, urinary incontinence and tissue protruding from the vagina. You may also experience trouble emptying your bowels or bladder fully and discomfort during intercourse. Symptoms can be constant or intermittent and may worsen without treatment.
Diagnosing And Treating Uterine Prolapse
An internal pelvic exam is usually required to diagnose a uterine prolapse. This involves your doctor inserting two fingers into your vagina to feel for a tissue bulge and determine the severity of the prolapse. Your doctor may also recommend diagnostic imaging, such as a vaginal ultrasound, if they have concerns about damage to the surrounding tissues.
There are a few different treatment options for uterine prolapse, and a treatment plan will be recommended based on the severity of your symptoms. Treatment may include referral to a physiotherapist to learn how to do strengthening exercises for your pelvic floor. This can be a successful treatment for mild prolapses and can prevent a prolapse from worsening.
A silicone vaginal pessary may be prescribed. This small device is inserted into your vagina to support your uterus and prevent tissue from bulging into your vagina. You will be shown how to insert it, remove it and clean it. Medication to correct hormonal imbalances associated with menopause can help tighten loose pelvic ligaments and improve support to the uterus.
When conservative treatment approaches are not sufficient, surgery may be recommended. A hysterectomy involves the complete removal of the uterus and may be a good option for those who are past their child-bearing years. Alternatively, you may be able to undergo a surgical procedure that uses mesh and sutures to support the uterus and prevent tissue from bulging into the vagina. This leaves the uterus intact for those who may want to have a baby in the future.
If you're experiencing symptoms associated with uterine prolapse, make an appointment with your doctor to get started with treatment. For more information on women's healthcare, contact a professional near you.