Vaginal prolapse is a condition where the vagina slips out of position. This is more common in women who have had multiple vaginal deliveries during childbirth, have gone through menopause, are smokers or are overweight. The chances of developing a prolapse also increases as you age.
Symptoms vaginal prolapse
Mild uterine prolapse generally doesn’t cause signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe uterine prolapse include:
- Sensation of heaviness or pulling in your pelvis
- Tissue protruding from your vagina
- Urinary problems, such as urine leakage (incontinence) or urine retention
- Trouble having a bowel movement
- Feeling as if you’re sitting on a small ball or as if something is falling out of your vagina
- Sexual concerns, such as a sensation of looseness in the tone of your vaginal tissue
Causes vaginal prolapse
Uterine prolapse results from the weakening of pelvic muscles and supportive tissues. Causes of weakened pelvic muscles and tissues include:
- Difficult labor and delivery or trauma during childbirth
- Delivery of a large baby
- Being overweight or obese
- Lower estrogen level after menopause
- Chronic constipation or straining with bowel movements
- Chronic cough or bronchitis
- Repeated heavy lifting
How is vaginal prolapse diagnosed?
A vaginal prolapse is often diagnosed in your healthcare provider’s office during an appointment. Your provider will do a physical exam, talk to you about any symptoms of fullness in your pelvic area or urinary incontinence (leakage). You may also be asked about your family history and about any previous pregnancies.
In some cases, you may not have any symptoms and the prolapse could be found during a routine exam with your healthcare provider.
To reduce your risk of uterine prolapse, try to:
- Perform Kegel exercises regularly. These exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles — especially important after you have a baby.
- Treat and prevent constipation. Drink plenty of fluids and eat high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain cereals.
- Avoid heavy lifting and lift correctly. When lifting, use your legs instead of your waist or back.
- Control coughing. Get treatment for a chronic cough or bronchitis, and don’t smoke.
- Avoid weight gain. Talk with your doctor to determine your ideal weight and get advice on weight-loss strategies, if you need them.