Health Library

Uterine Prolapse

Uterine Prolapse

What is uterine prolapse?

Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissue in your pelvis weaken. The weakness allows your uterus drop down into your vagina. Sometimes, it comes out through your vaginal opening. Nearly half of all women between ages 50 and 79 have this condition.

What causes uterine prolapse?

Uterine prolapse is caused when the muscles and tissue of the pelvic floor are weakened and can’t support the weight of the uterus. This allows it to drop into your vagina.

What are the risk factors for uterine prolapse?

Risk factors include:

  • Giving birth (highest risk)
  • Vaginal delivery (vs. C-section)
  • Menopause
  • Being Caucasian
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking

What are the symptoms of uterine prolapse?

Many women with this condition have no symptoms. However, if symptoms start, they may include:

  • Leakage of urine
  • Feeling of heaviness or fullness in your pelvis
  • Bulging in your vagina
  • Lower-back pain
  • Aching, or the feeling of pressure, in your lower abdomen or pelvis
  • Constipation

How is uterine prolapse diagnosed?

If your health care provider thinks that you have a prolapsed uterus, he or she will probably do a physical exam to check your pelvis. If you also have urinary incontinence or a feel like you can’t empty your bladder, your doctor may do a procedure called a cystoscopy to examine your bladder and urethra.

Your health care provider might also order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This procedure uses a magnet and radio waves to create images. This will allow your health care provider to get a good look at your kidneys and other pelvic organs.

How is uterine prolapse treated?

If your symptoms bother you or you’re not comfortable during everyday activities, talk with your health care provider about treatment options. Lifestyle changes, like losing weight, may help. So can doing Kegel exercises. These strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. To do this exercise, you squeeze the muscles you use to control the flow of urine, and hold for up to 10 seconds then release. Repeat 50 times a day.

A pessary can also relieve symptoms. This is a device your health care provider inserts into your vagina to support your pelvic organs.

A hysterectomy is surgery to remove your uterus. This can be done through your vagina. The healing time is faster than with surgery that requires an abdominal incision. There also are fewer complications.

Can uterine prolapse be prevented?

There is no certain way to prevent uterine prolapse. However, the following can help lower your risk:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Follow a diet rich in fiber and fluids to prevent constipation and straining
  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Quit smoking
  • Seek prompt treatment for a chronic cough, which can place extra pressure on your pelvic organs
  • Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles

These actions may also help if you already have uterine prolapse.

Consult your health care provider when symptoms first start to bother you. Don’t wait until your discomfort becomes severe. Regular pelvic exams can help detect uterine prolapse in its early stages.


Living with uterine prolapse

You may choose to have surgery but it’s not always needed. Medical devices, exercises, and lifestyle changes can sometimes relieve symptoms.

Key points

  • Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissue in your pelvis weaken.
  • This allows your uterus to drop down into your vagina.
  • Common symptoms include leakage of urine, fullness in your pelvis, bulging in your vagina, lower-back pain, and constipation.
  • Treatment for uterine prolapse includes life-style changes, a pessary, or surgery to remove the uterus.
  • You may be able to prevent this condition with weight loss, a high fiber diet, not smoking, and doing Kegel exercises.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Sign Up Today for Free e-Newsletters

Find a doctor or make an appointment:
General Information: (314) 747-3000
One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63110
© Copyright 1997-2015, Barnes-Jewish Hospital. All Rights Reserved.