Alternate Names : Prolapsed Uterus, Pelvic Support Relaxation, Pelvic Floor Hernia, Procidentia, Pudendal Hernia
Uterine prolapse is the "dropping" of the uterus from its normal position at the top of the vagina. It drops to a lower part of the vagina and may even drop outside the vagina. This is caused by a relaxation of the ligaments that support the uterus within the abdominal walls.
What is going on in the body?
Uterine prolapse occurs more
commonly in white women, and in women who:
have given birth vaginally to many children
have given birth to large babies
have had forceps deliveries
These things may have caused injury to the pelvic ligaments and muscles.
Symptoms may not occur until many years after women have given birth. This
suggests that aging and shrinkage of these muscles also adds to the problem.
Uterine prolapse sometimes occurs in women who have never given birth. In
these cases, the condition is due to a family tendency to have weak muscles
that hold the uterus in place.
Some women have what is known as a "tipped uterus." This type of uterus is
especially at risk to prolapse. This is due to its alignment along the same
line as the vagina. It may be subject to a "piston-like effect." This happens when a woman uses her abdominal muscles, which push the uterus down into the vagina.
There are many different degrees of prolapse. Incomplete prolapse occurs
when the uterus drops only partway into the vagina. Complete prolapse occurs
when the uterus and cervix protrude out of the vagina and the vagina becomes
inverted. Along with uterine prolapse there may be relaxation of the front and back portions of the vagina. This can cause a part of the bladder or rectum to protrude into the vagina.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The risk factors for developing uterine prolapse include:
multiple vaginal births
giving birth to large babies (more than 9 pounds)
difficult instrumented deliveries (forceps, vacuum)
presence of a pelvic tumor