Uterine Prolapse During Pregnancy: Stages And Its Treatment

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Uterine prolapse during pregnancy is rare, with an estimated incidence of one in every 10,000 to 15,000 deliveries. Usually, ligaments and pelvic floor muscles hold the uterus and place it in its position. The weakening of muscles and ligaments due to damages or stretching can cause prolapse, dropping the uterus into the vagina (1) (2). The treatment is planned according to the degree of prolapse.

Read on to know the causes, signs, and treatment of uterine prolapse in pregnancy and its complications.

In This Article

Does A Uterine Prolapse Affect Pregnancy?

A prolapsed uterus may cause the following complications (2) (3).

  • Preterm labor
  • Difficulty during labor and delivery
  • Cervical discomfort
  • Cervical desiccationiXA health condition causing the loss of flexibility and degenerative changes in the cervix and ulceration
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Acute urinary retention
  • FetaliXA serious complication of bacterial infection affecting young infants and maternal sepsis
  • Postpartum hemorrhageiXA complication of childbirth associated with excessive blood loss after delivery

Complex cases of uterine prolapse may cause abortion of the fetus. Complications may occur even after childbirth (4). But do not panic since extreme complications and problems due to uterine prolapse usually occur when the condition is ignored. The symptoms of uterine prolapse seldom go unnoticed, and you are likely to feel it before the problem gets worse. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Uterine Prolapse During Pregnancy

Here are some of the common symptoms of uterine prolapse during pregnancy (5) (6).

  • A visible protrusion from the vagina
  • Sensation of a bulge in the vagina
  • Pelvic heaviness
  • Pressure, heaviness, and a dragging sensation in the vagina
  • Back pain
  • Urinary incontinence – the feeling of incomplete emptying
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowel

The symptoms of uterine prolapse are usually most noticeable during the third trimester. See a doctor for antepartum care if you notice or feel the symptoms.

Prolapse is unlikely to be present before pregnancy. If present, it may resolve during pregnancy but may reappear after childbirth (4).

Recalling her experience with a postpartum uterine prolapse, Dr. Brianne Grogan, a mother and a doctor of physical therapy, says, “I was running, and I felt a, what I want to describe it as is kind of a pop. Although it certainly wasn’t that dramatic, it was a definite change in my pelvic region. I felt a drop, and I felt again what I can only describe as a pop. Although it wasn’t like a snap, it was a feeling of a drop. And I went home, and I thought oh my God, I have developed a prolapse (i).”

Causes Of Uterine Or Cervical Prolapse During Pregnancy

Pelvic muscles may weaken due to several reasons and increase the chances of uterine prolapse. The following conditions and factors may increase the risk of developing uterine prolapse (2)(4)(7).

  1. Trauma to the pelvic muscles during vaginal childbirth may stretch and weaken the muscles. It increases the chances of developing uterine prolapse in subsequent pregnancies.
  1. Multiple pregnancies and multiple deliveries, like in the case of delivering twins or triplets.
  1. Delivering a large baby through vaginal birth.
  1. Subsequent pregnancies with short intervals could also make the uterus susceptible to prolapsing.
  1. Congenital connective tissue disorders could cause pelvic muscles and ligaments to remain weak, which increases the chances of uterine prolapse.
  1. Physiological changes of the uterus, ligaments, and muscles of the body during pregnancy. For instance, hormonal changes during pregnancy could cause relaxation of ligaments. It may increase the risk of uterine prolapse.
  1. Chronic intra-abdominal pressure due to persistent straining for bowel movement or repeated lifting of heavy weights.

protip_icon Be watchful
The presence of fibroidsiXBenign smooth muscle tumors that grow inside the uterine wall may increase the risk of uterine prolapse. In rare cases, pelvic tumorsiXAbnormal growth of cells forming a mass of tissues in the pelvis may also lead to this condition (7).

Your doctor will determine the exact cause of uterine prolapse after performing diagnostic steps.

Diagnosing Uterine Or Cervical Prolapse During Pregnancy

Healthcare practitioners can diagnose the prolapse through pelvic examination. The doctor may ask the patient to perform a Valsalva maneuver, a breathing technique, which can help the doctor examine the full extent of the prolapse (8). The doctor may suggest an MRI of the pelvis to further confirm the diagnosis (9).

Treatment Of Uterine Or Cervical Prolapse During Pregnancy

The treatment approach depends on the stage of prolapse, the stage of pregnancy, and if the patient has any other complications. Your doctor may suggest the following treatment and care measures during pregnancy (10).

  1. Maintaining genital hygiene may help prevent the development of infections and other complications.
  2. The doctor may place a small device called a pessary into the vagina to prevent the uterus from collapsing. The pessary is kept in place until the onset of labor.
protip_icon Things to consider
Using vaginal pessaries in combination with pelvic floor exercises may be an effective way to manage uterine prolapse. However, consult your doctor before using them as they may not be suitable for everyone (7).
  1. If other conservative treatment steps are ineffective, then the doctor may perform a laparoscopic uterine suspension where the uterus is surgically suspended back to its original position. If uterine prolapse persists even as you approach the due date, the doctor may consider obstetric interventions such as performing a cesarean section to prevent complications.

Can You Prevent Uterine Prolapse During Pregnancy?

There is no particular way to prevent uterine prolapse. Observing certain precautions and making some changes in lifestyle may help reduce the risk of developing uterine prolapse. The following are some ways you can take care of your maternal health to minimize the chances of developing uterine prolapse (9) (11).

  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Include fiber and fluids in your diet to avoid constipation or excessive straining
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights
  • Take medical advice in case you have chronic cough since it can strain pelvic organs and muscles
  • In mild cases, you may perform Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Make sure to discuss with your healthcare practitioner or physiotherapist before performing any exercise during pregnancy.

 An existing uterine prolapse may resolve after childbirth, and there is also no risk to the baby after delivery.

Uterine prolapse may occur as a result of one factor or due to a combination of factors. It can be categorized into stages.

Stages Of Uterine Prolapse

Stages of uterine prolapse during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

There are different stages of uterine prolapse, depending on how far the uterus dropped into the vagina. The following are the four stages (5) (7).

  • Stage I: The uterus drops down to the upper half of the vagina. The most distal portion of the prolapse is >1cm above the level of the hymen.
  • Stage II: The uterus has dropped down nearly to the opening of the vagina. The most distal portion of the prolapse is ≤1cm proximal or distal to the hymen.
  • Stage III: The uterus protrudes out of the vagina. The most distal portion of the prolapse is >1cm below the hymen but protrudes no farther than 2cm less than the total length of the vagina.
  • Stage IV: The uterus is completely out of the vagina. There is a complete eversion of the vagina.

Can You Get Pregnant And Give Natural Birth With A Prolapsed Uterus?

Early diagnosis and proper management of the condition can lead to a safe pregnancy or gestation period (2). Various published case studies have reported successful natural birth with a prolapsed uterus (4)(6). However, there may be an increased risk for fetal distress and the mother due to uterine prolapse. Seeking prompt treatment can help have a trouble-free delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does uterine prolapse increase the risk of miscarriage?

The complications arising from uterine prolapse could vary from cervical infection to a miscarriage. However, most cases of uterine prolapse are treated, resulting in successful vaginal delivery (12).

2. Does bed rest help uterine prolapse?

Bed rest is a crucial part of the uterine prolapse intervention strategy. Even though the treatment plan may vary per each woman’s condition, bed rest is a common suggestion for everybody (13).

3. Can uterine prolapse during pregnancy affect future pregnancies?

Uterine prolapse during pregnancy may recur during a future pregnancy. Therefore, doctors recommend inserting a pessary inside the vagina to ease the symptoms (14).

4. How does uterine prolapse during pregnancy affect delivery?

During delivery, a pregnant woman with uterine prolapse will likely experience inadequate cervical dilatation, cervical laceration, and obstructive labor. In severe cases, hysterorrhexis at the lower uterus, fetal death, and maternal morbidity could also be possible (4).

5. What is the difference between a uterine prolapse and a cystocele?

Cystocele is another type of prolapse in which the urinary bladder drops into the vagina, whereas, in the case of uterine prolapse, the uterus drops into the vagina (15).

6. Can I push up a uterine prolapse?

No. It is not advised to try and push your prolapsed uterine back up as it might lead to unknown complications. The only acceptable way to treat a prolapsed uterus is to visit your OB-GYN and receive the appropriate treatment (16).

7. Is it okay to walk with a prolapsed uterus?

Dr. Menka Gupta, Singapore-based medical doctor and healthcare entrepreneur, says, “Walking is generally considered a safe and beneficial low-impact exercise for women with uterine prolapse. However, it’s crucial to pay attention to your body, and if walking causes discomfort or increased pressure in the pelvic area, it’s important to listen to your body. Mild to moderate physical activity, including walking, usually benefits women with uterine prolapse. It can help maintain a healthy weight, reducing pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, it aids in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and decreasing the risk of symptoms. Alongside walking, I recommend pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegel exercises, to strengthen the muscles supporting the uterus, bladder, and rectum.”

Uterine prolapse during pregnancy may result in preterm labor, cervical discomforts, labor difficulties, urinary tract infection, fetal and maternal sepsisiXA serious complication of an infection occurring during pregnancy, childbirth, or following an abortion , and postpartum hemorrhage. Some cases may result in pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage or stillbirth. A noticeable protrusion in the vagina, the sensation of the bulge in the vagina, back pain, pelvic heaviness, and urinary incontinence are some of the symptoms of uterine prolapse. Large babies, multiple pregnancies, trauma, congenital connective tissue disorders, and short intervals between pregnancies can increase the risk of uterine prolapse. Good hygiene practices, inserting pessaries into the vagina, or laparoscopic uterine suspension are done to manage uterine prolapse depending on the severity

Infographic: Aspects That Influence Treatment Choice For Uterine Prolapse

Healthcare providers recommend vaginal pessaries or surgery to treat uterine prolapse during pregnancy. This depends on various factors and expected outcomes in each woman. Read through the infographic to know the factors influencing the treatment choice for uterine prolapse during pregnancy.

notable factors influencing the treatment for uterine prolapse (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Uterine prolapse happens when the pelvic floor muscles become weak due to damage and stretching.
  • Previous pregnancies and deliveries may increase the risk of uterine prolapse.
  • Back pain, pelvic heaviness, or visible protrusion from the vagina are some symptoms of uterine prolapse.
  • Kegel exercises, avoiding heavy weight lifting, a good diet, and moderate physical activity can help prevent uterine prolapse.
  • Early diagnosis and proper management are crucial for a safe pregnancy and delivery.

Uterine prolapse is a condition where the uterus drops down into the vagina. Learn about its causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in this video.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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10. Latika, Nanda S, Chauhan M, Malhotra V. Pregnancy with third degree uterine prolapse-a rare case report.International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5, 579-81. (2016).
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