What is uterine prolapse?

The uterus (womb) is normally held in place by a hammock of muscles, tissue and ligaments. Prolapse happens when tissues supporting the uterus become so weak that the uterus cannot stay in place and slips down from its normal position.

What causes uterine prolapse?

The most common cause is trauma during childbirth, in particular multiple or difficult births. About 50% of women who have had children develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. It is more common as women get older, particularly in those who have gone through the menopause. It is rare in women who have not had children.

It commonly occurs in association with other pelvic floor problems, such as urinary incontinence.

Prolapse of the uterus can happen in various stages.

  • first-degree prolapse: the uterus slips down into the vagina.
  • second-degree prolapse: part of the uterus sticks out of the opening of the vagina.
  • third-degree prolapse: the whole uterus is outside the vagina (called procidentia).

How can a uterine prolapse be treated?

Mild cases of prolapse may not need treatment and lifestyle changes such as pelvic floor exercises may be sufficient.

More severe cases may be treated effectively with a vaginal pessary or with uterine prolapse surgery.

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A prolapsed uterus