DANGERS OF UTERINE PROLAPSE
Uterine prolapse occurs when the ligaments that hold the uterus in place weaken, allowing the uterus to slide from its normal position in the pelvic cavity into the vaginal canal. The condition commonly arises following a complicated labor or the delivery of a particularly large baby. Uterine prolapse is also common in older women who have undergone menopause, when estrogen levels naturally reduce and muscles tend to weaken. Women who are obese, who smoke or who suffer from chronic constipation are also more likely to suffer uterine prolapse.
The severity of uterine prolapse can vary. In order to understand whether your prolapse is mild or severe, your doctor will need to perform a physical examination. First degree prolapse occurs when the uterus sags downwards into the upper vagina. When the cervix is at or near the outside of the vagina, prolapse is known as second degree. Total prolapse, or third degree prolapse, occurs when the entire uterus is outside the vagina.
Doctors often describe prolapse based on the parts of the uterus or vagina that are involved in the prolapse. If the front wall of the vagina (below the bladder) is prolapsed, your condition will be called cystocoele. When the back wall of the vagina has prolapsed, doctors will refer to the condition as rectocoele. A uterus that is tilted forwards or backwards within the pelvic cavity is sometimes referred to as a “tipped uterus”. In severe cases where the cervix prolapses beyond the entrance of the vagina, the condition is described as proccidentia.
Uterine prolapse can interfere with bowel, bladder and sexual function. In cystocoele prolapse, urinary tract infections and other urinary symptoms are a common complication, due to the involvement of the bladder. By contrast, the most common complications of rectocoele are constipation and hemorrhoids. The downward pressure of your uterus on your vagina can lead to ulceration of one or both of these organs. If left untreated, the ulcerations may become infected and may have a toxic effect on the entirety of your body.
Since uterine prolapse worsens with time, all cases of uterine prolapse will need some form of medical intervention. In mild cases, the condition may be reversed by performing special pelvic floor exercises. Women whose prolapse is more severe are likely to require surgery to repair the damaged pelvic support structures or to remove the uterus (hysterectomy). In many cases, it is the after effects of surgery that can lead to dangerous complications and unpleasant side effects.
As with all surgeries, there is a risk of blood clots, infection, excessive bleeding or an adverse reaction to the anesthetic. In particular, surgeries for uterine prolapse can cause damage to your urinary tract, bladder or rectum. There is also a chance that nerves may be damaged during the operation – often it is the pudendal nerve, which is involved in sexual arousal and orgasm that is damaged. Diminished sexual function and enjoyment is a serious danger of uterine prolapse surgery.
Your doctor will be able to thoroughly evaluate your case to ensure that you receive the treatment that will best treat your uterine prolapse, without causing danger to you.