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What causes uterine prolapse?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

For increasing risk of uterine prolapse, evidence is strongest for risk factors of multiple pregnancies, vaginal delivery, genetic predisposition, race and body mass. Evidence is less strong for heavy lifting, strining or frequent coughing, though these are also commonly listed as risk factors.

Uterine prolapse is caused by weakening of the connective tissue, ligaments and muscles that keep the uterus in its normal position in the pelvis. When these tissues become weak they are no longer able to support the uterus, and it falls through the vaginal canal. These supporting tissues generally become weaker and less elastic as part of the normal aging process. There are also many other factors that may contribute, such as obesity, injury, previous vaginal births, or frequent straining or heavy lifting for many years. Rarely, a tumor in the pelvis can press down on the uterus, resulting in prolapse.

Your risk of developing uterine prolapse is increased by several factors. The main one is having had multiple vaginal births. Some you have no control over, such as race (northern Europeans being at higher risk than Asians or Africans), becoming older, or being born with a genetic tendency to having weak connective tissue or muscles (as with conditions like Marfan syndrome). Large tumors or fibroids are associated with higher risk. Other risk factors may include having a large baby; frequent coughing, straining, or lifting heavy objects; constipation; and obesity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.