If you have mild uterine prolapse, either without symptoms or with symptoms that don't bother you, you probably don't need treatment. However, your pelvic floor may continue to lose tone, making uterine prolapse more severe as time goes on. Check back with your doctor to monitor the extent of your prolapse and review your symptoms.
Simple self-care measures, such as performing exercises called Kegels to strengthen your pelvic muscles, may provide symptom relief. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding heavy lifting may help reduce pressure on supportive pelvic structures.
For more-severe cases of uterine prolapse, treatment options include:
Vaginal pessary. This device fits inside your vagina and holds your uterus in place. Used as temporary or permanent treatment, vaginal pessaries come in many shapes and sizes, so your doctor will measure and fit you for the proper device. You'll also learn how to insert, remove and clean the pessary. You may be able to take the pessary out overnight and reinsert it each day.
But a vaginal pessary may be of little use if you have severe uterine prolapse. Also, a vaginal pessary can irritate vaginal tissues, possibly to the point of causing sores (ulcers) on vaginal tissues, and it may interfere with sexual intercourse.
Surgery. To repair damaged or weakened pelvic floor tissues, doctors often use a vaginal approach to surgery, although sometimes doctors recommend an abdominal surgery. A hysterectomy, which removes your uterus, also may be needed.
As an alternative to vaginal and abdominal surgery, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery. This procedure involves smaller abdominal incisions, special surgical instruments and a lighted camera-type device (laparoscope) to guide the surgeon.
In some cases, surgical repair may be possible through a graft of your own tissue, donor tissue or some synthetic material onto weakened pelvic floor structures to support your pelvic organs.
Which surgery and surgical approach your doctor recommends depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Each surgery has pros and cons that you'll need to discuss with your surgeon.
If you plan to have more children, you might not be a good candidate for surgery to repair uterine prolapse. Pregnancy and delivery of a baby put strain on the supportive tissues of the uterus and can undo the benefits of surgical repair. Also, for women with major medical problems, the risks of surgery might outweigh the benefits. In these instances, pessary use may be your best treatment choice for bothersome symptoms.
Talk with your doctor to learn your options, including the benefits and risks.
Aug. 17, 2012
- Rogers RG, et al. An overview of the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical manifestations, and management of pelvic organ prolapse. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Pelvic support problems. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq012.ashx. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Lentz GM, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-06986-1&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-06986-1..C2009-0-48752-X--TOP. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Kuncharapu I, et al. Pelvic organ prolapse. American Family Physician. 2010;81:1111.
- Culligan PJ. Nonsurgical management of pelvic organ prolapse. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2012;119:852.
- Hagen R, et al. Conservative management of pelvic organ prolapse. Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine. 2012;22:118.
- Kenton K. Pelvic organ prolapse in women: Surgical repair of apical prolapse (uterine or vaginal vault prolapse). http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 5, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.