A Prolapsed Uterus
When the uterus drops down into the vagina, a condition known as uterine prolapse is said to have occurred. Prolapse happens due to the weakening of the structures in the area, such as ligaments, pelvic floor muscles, and tissues. This condition is commonly seen in postmenopausal women who have had vaginal deliveries. Treatment varies depending on the severity and can help alleviate symptoms.
Stages of prolapse
Uterine prolapse is classified into 4 grades based on the extent the uterus has entered the vagina. In stage 1, the uterus has slipped into the upper part of the vagina, while in stage 2, the uterus has entered the lower part of the vagina. Stage 3 is when the uterus protrudes from the vagina, and in the final stage, stage 4, the uterus is found outside the vagina.
Heaviness and leakage
Most women do not have any symptoms during the initial stages of prolapse. However, in later stages, various symptoms may appear. There will be a feeling of heaviness in the pelvis, urine leakage, and the inability to empty the bladder. One may also feel something bulging out of the vagina and symptoms such as pain in the back or pelvis. If any of these symptoms are experienced, a doctor should be contacted for diagnosis and treatment.
Managing prolapse conservatively
To treat uterine prolapse, conservative and surgical treatments are available. The treatment choice is based on the severity of the prolapse and the patient’s overall health. Conservative treatment options include exercises, using a pessary, incorporating more fiber, and increasing water intake. Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles when done consistently. A vaginal pessary is a rubbery device inserted around the cervix, helping keep the uterus in place. Increasing water intake and adding more fiber to the diet will allow bowel movements to take place without straining, which can make prolapse worse.
The surgical approach
Surgery may be necessary in some circumstances, especially with a grade 4 prolapse. The 2 surgical options are prolapse repair with hysterectomy and prolapse repair without hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is a procedure where the uterus is removed, and a woman can no longer carry a pregnancy.
An ounce of prevention
Although some risk factors cannot be avoided, certain activities can lessen the risk of developing a uterine prolapse. Regular physical activity, including Kegel exercises, and maintaining a healthy weight can help. Drink lots of fluids to avoid constipation and straining during bowel movements. Eliminate habits such as smoking, as this can lead to a chronic cough that causes pressure on the pelvic muscles.
Returning to normal
The majority of patients have a favorable prognosis for uterine prolapse. Conservative treatments can start to improve the condition right away, while surgery requires a bit more downtime. Speak to the doctor about taking precautions after treatment and preventing a prolapse from recurring.