What is premature rupture of membranes (prom)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) occurs around the 37th week of pregnancy when membranes containing the fetus burst prematurely. This happens before labor occurs. This process is also referred to as when "the water breaks." The membranes, also called the amniotic sac, hold the fetus and amniotic fluid. When premature rupture of membranes takes place preterm, there is increased risk of infection of the uterus and fetus if labor does not start within the next 12 hours (unless proper medical treatment is given).
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) refers to a patient who is beyond 37 weeks' gestation and has experienced rupture of membranes (ROM) prior to the onset of labor. Patients with PROM present with leakage of fluid, vaginal discharge, and pelvic pressure, but they are not having contractions.

PROM is diagnosed by speculum examination of the vaginal cavity. The presence of pooling of fluid in the vagina or leakage of fluid from the cervix, ferning of the dried fluid under microscopic examination, and alkalinity of the fluid as determined by Nitrazine paper confirm the diagnosis.

Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) is the condition in which the disruption of the amniotic membrane before the onset of labor alters the intrauterine environment and increases the risk for ascending infections for both the fetus and the mother. In the majority of cases, the woman with PROM will experience the spontaneous onset of labor within 24 hours.  If labor does not begin spontaneously or if the mother or fetus demonstrates signs of infection, steps to get the baby delivered either by induction of labor and cesarean birth will be initiated.

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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.