What is a Prolapsed womb?
A condition in which the womb (uterus) descends from its normal position into the vagina. The womb (uterus) and vagina are supported and kept in their normal position by a number of muscles and ligaments in the pelvis, called the pelvic floor.
What are the Symptoms of a Prolapsed womb?
Some women with a prolapsed womb do not have any symptoms. However others experience:
- A feeling of fullness in the vagina or a feeling of something coming down into the vagina.
- A feeling of pressure on the bladder or urinary dribbling.
- Difficulties with sexual intercourse.
- In rare cases, the cervix may protrude from the vaginal opening.
What are the Causes of a Prolapsed womb
During pregnancy, the weight of the foetus, placenta and amniotic fluid mean these ligaments have to withstand a lot more pressure than usual. The extra weight stretches and weakens them and each successive pregnancy increases the damage. As a result, the womb may begin to sag or move downwards. The normal ageing process can also weaken the pelvic floor. Women who are overweight are more likely to develop a prolapse. The degree of prolapse varies from first degree, in which there is only slight displacement of the womb, to third degree, where the neck of the womb can be seen outside the vulva. Sometimes when the pelvic support fails, the condition can be complicated by the herniation of another structure into the vaginal canal. (A hernia is the protrusion of an organ or tissue out of the body cavity in which it normally lies.)
Traditional Medical Treatments for a Prolapsed womb
The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the prolapse and the symptoms caused. In less severe cases, a doctor or physiotherapist may teach pelvic floor exercises. Carrying out these exercises regularly will strengthen the muscles of the vagina. For more severe cases, a vaginal hysterectomy (removal of the womb through the vagina) and tightening of the support ligaments and a vaginal repair may be required. For women who do not want surgery, or who have other health problems, a pessary may be inserted into the vagina to hold the womb in position. A pessary is a plastic, ring-shaped supportive device. Pessaries will need to be replaced regularly by a doctor.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Prolapsed womb
These may include the use of pessaries, particularly for those women unable or unwilling to undergo surgical treatment. They are usually plastic or rubber and fit inside the vagina to support the uterus. This treatment is not meant to be a cure, simply a method of holding the uterus in place. Vaginal Cones are similar to tampons and come in different weights, they are intended to exercise the muscles so that they become progressively stronger. Electrical Stimulation use nerve stimulation to exercise and tone the pelvic floor muscles, the electrical impulses are delivered by a vaginal or cervical probe. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegal Exercises) are used by women to exercise and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. They are simple to learn and your doctor should be able to give you information about them. Other measures include dieting, if you are overweight, eating plenty of high fibre foods to prevent constipation and straining. Women who have incontinence problems may also be recommended to limit their intake of fluids. A repair operation will also be necessary when organs other than just the uterus are involved.