There are things in life you take for granted: the sun rises, the sun sets, and your internal organs stay inside your body. Unfortunately, this last one isn’t always a given. If the muscles and ligaments in your pelvic floor become weakened with age or multiple deliveries, your uterus can drop down, or prolapse. In extreme cases, it can even slip down into and out of your vagina.
Dr. Khashayar Shakiba at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey understands your confusion about why this is happening, your concern for your health, and your physical pain and discomfort, and he can bring you relief on all three counts. Here, he explains all you need to know about uterine prolapse, including your options for treatment.
We start our discussion about uterine prolapse by talking about vaginal bleeding for two reasons. First, it’s a primary symptom of uterine prolapse. Second, because it’s also a symptom of other medical conditions, including (but not limited to):
- Sexual abuse
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Any abnormal vaginal bleeding, meaning heavy flow, long periods, skipped periods, or intermittent bleeding may be an indicator of a serious condition that needs medical attention, so come in and see Dr. Shakiba to find out exactly what you're dealing with.
What uterine prolapse feels like
We rank the severity of uterine prolapse in stages from I (mild) to IV (severe). Stage I prolapse may cause no warning signs at all. If your pelvic floor muscles and tendons are starting to weaken or stretch out, your uterus may descend only slightly and never interfere with your life.
But a stage III or IV prolapse may drop into your vagina and protrude through the opening. Women with moderate-to-severe uterine prolapse often experience:
- Pulling or tugging in the vaginal area
- A heavy feeling in their vagina
- Painful intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge
- Feeling as if they're sitting on a ball
- Being constipated
These are serious symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to see Dr. Shakiba. Left untreated, a prolapsed uterus can lead to complications, such as impairing your sexual function, as well as problems with your bowels and bladder.
What to do about uterine prolapse
Giving birth multiple times can do a number on your pelvic tissues, and is sometimes a factor in uterine prolapse. But being overweight can add to the problem as well, as can chronic coughing and constipation, as these conditions contribute to a strained and weakened pelvic floor.
Depending on what’s causing your uterus to drop and the severity of your condition, Dr. Shakiba may recommend losing weight and performing Kegel exercises to strengthen the support muscles in your pelvic floor.
If you have stage II or stage III uterine prolapse, you may be a good candidate for a pessary, a rubber device inserted into your vagina to support your uterus, but this is only a temporary solution.
Surgical options include the implantation of a mesh material to hold your uterus in place, or another procedure that, in effect, shortens your vaginal canal and fortifies the walls to better support your uterus.
If you have stage IV uterine prolapse and are not planning on having children, Dr. Shakiba may recommend a hysterectomy to remove your uterus. In this case, he uses the da Vinci® robotic system, which ensures you have the least invasive procedure, the least pain, and the shortest recovery time.
If you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding or suspect you may have uterine prolapse, contact us right away at 201-279-5787, or use our online tool to request an appointment and get some peace of mind.