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What Else Can Lead to Pelvic Organ Prolapse Besides Childbirth?

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It is widely known and accepted that even just one vaginal birth is the most common risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) such as cystocele, rectocele, uterine prolapse and urinary incontinence.

There are some women who can develop POP even in the absence of vaginal birth. POP is usually blamed on torn or stretched connective tissue (fascia) that invests/supports the pelvic floor muscles (levator ani), in addition to injury to nerves r blood supply to the organs in question. Are there other concomitant conditions that may call attention to the risk of developing POP?

Interestingly, and per common sense, POP conditions and urinary incontinence often co-exist in women. A huge study from Kaiser in 2008 surveyed more than 4000 women, with a mean age of 56, to see what kind of pelvic floor disorders they have. The prevalence is as follows:

Stress Incontinence 15%
Overactive Bladder 13%
Pelvic Organ Prolapse 6%
Anal Incontinence 25%

Not surprisingly, 48-80% of women with one disorder reported having at least another disorder. 60% of women had at least something.
An even larger population based study of women from Stockholm of 8000 recently reported their findings of the non-obstetric risks for developing POP. They are:

History of conditions suggesting connective tissue defects (hernia, varicose veins, hemmorhoids)
Family history of POP
Heavy lifting at work

Add a Comment4 Comments

As a menopausal woman, some days my lightbulb doesn't turn on-thanks for clarifying what should have been obvious.

October 21, 2009 - 6:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to sjpPOP)

No problemo.
-Dr. K.

October 21, 2009 - 8:47am
EmpowHER Guest

Age includes menopause.
-Dr. K.

October 21, 2009 - 5:17am

I think it would be beneficial for these types of studies to include menopause as a POP cause. The impact of loss of estrogen to the strenth and integrity of muscle tissue, including the PC muscle, a major player in the support of the pelvic organs, most definetly plays a roll for many women.

Sherrie Palm
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic

October 16, 2009 - 6:44pm
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