What is uterine prolapse?

Uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus drops down (prolapses) into the vagina. It is caused by weakened pelvic muscles and ligaments that fail to hold the uterus in place. There may be full collapse of the uterus into the vagina or only a partial descent of the uterus. Uterine prolapse is a common condition that affects approximately 50% of postmenopausal women who have given birth. It occurs more frequently in women who had multiple births by vaginal delivery, but it can also develop in women who did not bear children.

Uterine Condition Spotlight

The most common cause of uterine prolapse is damage to the pelvic floor during pregnancy and childbirth. Normal aging and a decrease in estrogen levels may also contribute to the prolapse. Other conditions that strain the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor include obesity, chronic constipation, and abdominal gas.

The symptoms of uterine prolapse may occur frequently or only occasionally. The condition varies among individuals. Many women with uterine prolapse have no symptoms at all, while others may have back pain, abnormal pelvic pressure, or pain during sexual intercourse. In some cases, uterine prolapse is severe enough to interfere with bladder or bowel function.

Treatment options that relieve symptoms or repair the prolapse include exercises and surgical procedures.

In some cases, uterine prolapse can significantly interfere with bladder or bowel function, which can cause serious complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience inability to urinate or have a bowel movement, severe abdominal pain, or uncontrollable vomiting.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for uterine prolapse but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of uterine prolapse?

The symptoms of uterine prolapse vary among individuals.... Read more about uterine prolapsesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes uterine prolapse?

Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic region lose the ability to support the uterus, and the uterus descends into the vagina. The prolapse can be caused by stress on the muscles and ligaments during pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, by normal aging and a decrease in estrogen levels, or by other conditions that put strain on the pelvic floor, such as obesity, chronic constipation, abdominal gas, or chronic coughing.... Read more about uterine prolapsecauses

TREATMENTS

How is uterine prolapse treated?

Treatment for uterine prolapse begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. Some people with uterine prolapse may never have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, however, several treatment options can reduce or relieve the symptoms. Your health care provider will determine the best treatment options for you based on your age, the severity of your symptoms, and whether or not you plan to have children.... Read more about uterine prolapsetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.