Many women suffer from a prolapsed uterus, with the chances going up with age. But common as it may be, a prolapsed uterus is also a condition that’s grossly misunderstood or underreported – be it because a woman isn’t able to pin down the signs or because she’s too embarrassed to say anything. A Washington Post report even calls it the “hidden medical epidemic” few women talk about!1 Knowing whether you’ve had a uterine prolapse and seeking prompt medical help can go a long way in sparing you the misery and mystery of all those unexplained signs.
But first the lowdown on what exactly happens with a prolapse. The uterus is held just above the vagina by a net of supportive ligaments and muscles. If these structures become weak, your uterus can sag and drop into your vaginal canal. This is known as a uterine prolapse. Aside from your uterus, other organs on your pelvic floor, like your bladder, rectum, and small intestine, can also meet the same fate. These problems together fall under the bracket of pelvic organ prolapse. Childbirth is one major factor that could weaken your pelvic ligaments and muscles. Other factors that affect these supportive structures include chronic cough, constipation, and obesity. Menopause can also be a trigger, because of the loss of the hormone estrogen which helps tissues maintain their tone.2
Some common symptoms of a uterine prolapse are3:
Heaviness In The Vagina Or Pelvis
If you have a prolapsed uterus, you may experience a feeling of heaviness or pressure in your vagina or pelvis. A dragging sensation is also not uncommon. Some women report feeling like something is going to fall out of their vagina or as though they’re sitting on a ball.4
Bulge In The Vagina
A sagging uterus may drop far enough for you to notice a small bulge at the opening of the vagina. In some cases, this bulge may protrude further into the vaginal opening. This would appear as a lump of pink moist tissue. This tissue can be irritated and cause itching or sores that may bleed.5
Pain Or Discomfort
Pain or discomfort in the lower back, lower abdomen, pelvis, vagina, or groin is often experienced by people with this condition. The discomfort is often described as an aching or pulling sensation. You may find that it gets worse during menstruation or sexual intercourse.6
Problems During Sex
A uterine prolapse can cause problems during sex. You may experience discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse and may find it difficult to have an orgasm. Some women also leak urine during sex.7
Vaginal bleeding or an increase in vaginal discharge is also a sign to watch out for.
Symptoms of a prolapsed uterus may get worse when you lift heavy things, exercise, or sit or stand for long periods.
Urinary problems can also be a sign of this condition. You may have a slow stream or may need to urinate more frequently. It’s also common to leak urine when there is pressure on your bladder such as when you sneeze, cough, or exercise. You may also feel like your bladder is not emptying fully when you urinate.
Treat Promptly And Work Toward Prevention
There are several measures that you can take to tackle as well as lower your risk of getting a prolapsed uterus:
Treatment: Your doctor may advise exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles or estrogen treatment if you have a prolapsed uterus. You may also be given a pessary, which is a disc inserted into your vagina that acts as a support. Some women may also be advised surgery to either repair weak tissues or remove the uterus.
Prevention: Incorporate regular physical activity into your life and make sure you do exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor. Also, avoid lifting heavy things and keep constipation at bay by having high fiber foods and drinking lots of fluids.8
|↑1||The hidden medical epidemic few women have been willing to talk about, until now. Washington Post.|
|↑2, ↑5, ↑6||Uterine And Bladder Prolapse. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑3||Uterine prolapse. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Prolapse: Uterine and vaginal. Women’s Health Concern.|
|↑7||Uterine And Bladder Prolapse. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑8||Prolapsed uterus. Healthdirect Australia.|