Uterine prolapse affects mainly women who have already gone through menopause. And you’ve probably heard about it, and now that you are hitting middle age and menopause, you are worried about whether you are also developing the condition. So today we’ll be examining the condition in some detail, so that with the help of this, you can understand whether you are at actual risk…
What is uterine prolapsed?
In this case, the name is pretty self explanatory. Prolapse means the slipping out or descent of any organ in the body from its original position. In this case, the uterus slips down from its original place over the pelvis into the vagina.
What actually happens is that the pelvic muscles lose their tone from inactivity, excess strain and even trauma. With the weakening of these muscles, they are unable to hold the uterus in place. As the uterus slips down, it descends into the vagina. In severe cases, the uterus may descend all the way through the vagina and a small part may even emerge through the vagina. But the obvious question that you are thinking about now is…
How do you know you have it?
The uterus protruding out of the vagina is a sign of the condition having progressed considerably. But even without that, you could still have vaginal prolapsed. And here are some of the commonest symptoms as noted by women who have it:
- A heaviness in the pelvic region
- Symptoms that are not so apparent when you wake up, but worsen as you get through the day
- Urinary problems – which could be retention or incontinence
- Problems with bowel movements
- Pain in the lower back
- When you sit down, you may get the feeling that you are sitting on top of something, like a little ball
- A feeling of not having tone in your vaginal walls, especially during sexual intercourse
- Of course, a sign of a well progressed uterine prolapsed is tissue protruding out of your vagina
There may be other signs and symptoms, but all of them pertain to prolapsed which isn’t severe enough to pose a risk. However, if you do feel any of the following, and it is causing you any problem and discomfort, then you need to consider seeing a doctor.
Besides these symptoms, another way you can probably be a little surer is by checking out if you fall into the risk category due to any of the common causes of uterine prolapse.
What could cause it?
A number of reasons could contribute to a woman developing a prolapsed uterus. Quite a few of these are related to natural pelvic childbirth – and as a result, it is most commonly seen in women who have progressed through that age into menopause. Here are the causes in a nutshell:
- Pregnancy – the weight of the baby, in addition to gravity, puts a lot of strain on the pelvic muscles that must support the uterus along with the weight of the baby. As a result, pregnancy itself produces enough of a strain.
- In case of any trauma to the pelvis or concerned muscles during delivery, this has also been seen to give rise to uterine prolapsed.
- The delivery of a large baby can also put an unnatural amount of strain on the pelvic muscles, and could lead to uterine prolapsed later in life.
- In some women repeated vaginal deliveries is also seen as a contributing factor as the repeated strain on the pelvis and vagina considerably weaken the muscles.
- A difficult labor period as well as delivery could also be a contributing factor.
- Another thing you must consider is that as you age, all your muscles, including your vaginal and pelvic muscles lose tone.
- The fall in the level of estrogen in the body, brought on by menopause is another major contributing factor. As you know, the estrogen is largely responsible for maintaining the health and suppleness of the vagina and pelvis. But with the decreasing levels of estrogen, the problem only worsens.
Besides these factors you should also consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. But before you do that, here’s giving you a heads up about the usual treatment options…
What to do about it?
In severe cases, medical procedures may be necessary. But usually in mild cases, home care can be quite beneficial. We’ll look first at the…
Here are the two main medical procedures carried out:
- Pessaries – these are little devices that are placed inside the vagina. They can be temporary, or can be placed permanently, depending on the quality of the pessary. These hold the uterus up and in place, preventing it from slipping down. Pessaries need to be made according to measurements, and the first time your doctor will be inserting it and showing you how to do it. Thereafter you can take it out, clean it and replace it as and when necessary. However, these are useful in cases that aren’t very severe. For the really severe cases, doctors go for the other option.
- Surgery – as the name suggests, this involves surgery. In this kind of surgery the doctors surgically repair the weakened pelvic muscles. Often the procedure is performed through the vagina, but in some cases, abdominal surgery may be the only option. In yet other cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended, so that the uterus can be removed, removing the strain on your pelvic muscles.
These are the medical procedures… Again in most cases, simple home care methods can bring about considerable improvement in the condition.
A few of the things that even doctors will prescribe you are as follows:
- Performing kegel exercises. We will be discussing these a little later.
- Take steps to curb constipation with the help of adequate fluids and fiber rich meals. Constipation greatly increases strain on your pelvic muscles.
- In case you suffer from a chronic cough, seek treatment. The coughing needs to be controlled to prevent worsening of the prolapsed.
- Make sure you are ideal weight. Being too heavy is also bad for prolapsed.
- Do not lift heavy weights, and with whatever weights you lift, use your knees and legs as opposed to your back and waist.
In fact, if you think you are at risk due to pregnancies or other factors that may be placing you at risk, you can use these same tips for prevention, without actually consulting your doctor.
And now for a quick look at…
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises actually work your pelvic floor muscles. Just like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor muscles also need to be worked on a regular basic so that they do not lose tone. Now, when it comes to working your pelvic floor muscles, the exercise is pretty simple. But first you have to identify your pelvic floor muscles.
The easiest way to do this is to try to stop the flow of urine while you are urinating. The muscles that allow you to do this are the muscles you need to be exercising. However, stopping the flow of urine forcibly like this frequently is actually harmful for the pelvic muscles. So we suggest that you only try this once or twice – just to locate the muscles and get a feel for them.
Once you have, you can then do the exercises at any time of the day, as long as you are sitting or standing in a comfortable position, you can do it. All you have to do is clench the muscles and release them. There are two ways to do this:
- Either you can clench and release in quick succession about 10 times at a go. Do this 3 times a day. You can slowly increase the number of clenches up to 50 as you get better at it.
- On the other hand, you can also clench and hold for 10 seconds and release. Do this 1-2 times at each time. Repeat thrice in a day.
Here is a video that talks you through Kegel exercises. While it is meant for pregnant women, in essence the principle is the same at any age:
In case of any problems you may have, do consult with your ob/gyn or a certified therapist – they’ll be able to guide you.
Uterine prolapsed can be a major problem, and it does affect many menopausal and post-menopausal women to varying degrees. But armed with this in-depth information about the condition, you should now be able to take the right approach and deal with it better and more positively.