A lady’s uterus, or womb, is similar in shape to an upside-down pear. Along with the bowel and bladder, the uterus is supported by a set of muscles running between the pubic bone and tailbone (or coccyx). The muscles function rather like a hammock, collectively referred to as your pelvic floor, or levator ani muscles. The pelvic organs, including the uterus, as suspended by connective tissue and ligaments, all working together to hold everything in place.
In the event this system of muscles and tissues are damaged or weakened, the uterus is at risk of moving out of place and dropping down, towards the vagina. This is known as uterine prolapse.
Common causes of prolapse
Several elements commonly cause a uterus to prolapse, including vaginal childbirth, severe coughing, obesity, hormonal changes following the menopause, and straining on the toilet. Initial treatment for a prolapse is strengthening the pelvic floor muscles using exercises like Kegels.
Additional support can be provided by a pessary inserted into the uterus. This will reduce the symptoms of prolapse. If a combination of pelvic floor exercises and pessary are unsuccessful, the prolapse is more severe and will require surgical intervention.
Symptoms of uterine prolapse
Several signs indicate a prolapsed uterus, including:
– The feeling of pressure or heaviness in the vagina
– A distinct bulge, or lump inside, or protruding from, the vagina
– Pain during sexual intercourse.
The four stages of uterine prolapse
There are four steps to a uterine prolapse, which indicate the extent to which the uterus has descended. It’s possible that the bladder and bowel, as part of a group of pelvic organs, may also drop as a result of the prolapse. The four stages of uterine prolapse are:
Stage 1: The uterus has descended into the upper part of the vagina
Stage 2: The uterus is almost at the vaginal opening
Stage 3: The uterus is protruding from the vagina
Stage 4: The uterus has descended to the point it is entirely outside the vagina.
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