Common Prolapse Symptoms
Vaginal or uterine prolapse describes what happens when the uterus slips down from its normal position in the body. There are three stages of prolapse which can be experienced depending on the severity of the problem: the first is when the uterus moves into the vagina; the second is when the uterus falls out of the vaginal opening; and third degree prolapse is when the entire uterus slips down and out of the vagina.
Although the problem can sometimes be symptomless, especially first degree prolapse, the most common sign is the feeling of heaviness in the vagina. Some women may experience some pain in the vagina or in the lower back. Other symptoms include difficulty during sexual intercourse and going to the toilet, and occasionally discomfort when walking.
Prolapse is caused by the weakening of muscles and ligaments that hold up the bladder or the pelvic organs. It can often be the result of childbirth but it is also seen in older women as the muscles age or after the menopause. It is much more common than many patients might think, affecting up to 30 per cent of women to varying degrees. Although it is rare in women who have not given birth, other contributing factors include having a persistent cough, long-term constipation, heavy lifting, and being overweight as this puts added pressure on the pelvic area. Women who have had previous pelvic repair such as a hysterectomy are also at slightly greater risk.
First degree prolapse is diagnosed by an internal examination, although this is not required for advanced prolapse as the uterus can be seen outside the vagina. It is possible to treat the problem conservatively with minimal intervention – a programme of pelvic floor exercises and weight loss can be very effective. However, surgery can be recommended in more severe cases of prolapse.
Some women do not have symptoms but others may have one or a combination of prolapse symptoms. The following are are all known presentations of a possible prolapse:
- pelvic pressure
- a feeling that something is falling out of the vagina
- pulling or stretching feeling in the groin area
- painful intercourse
- dull backache
- spotting or bleeding from the vagina
- the inability to use tampons as the opening to the vagina is wide
- urinary problems such as incontinence or frequency (feeling the need to regularly pass urine)
- bladder leakage
Other factors may indicate a weakening of the pelvic floor and could be also associated with prolapse:
- symptoms made worse by standing
- symptoms made worse by jumping
- symptoms made worse by lifting
You may also find that all activity associated symptoms are relieved when lying down.
If you are worried by any of these signs or symptoms, we can help you and if appropriate, Mr Broome can assist you. Please email us for further information.
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