The joys that come with a new baby are obvious, intense and enduring, but there is a flip side. The stresses of birthing can lead to incontinence, vaginal muscle and tissue damage, which can go as far as a collapsing uterus. The passage of time can make these effects more noticeable, but there are alternatives to merely putting up with them.
The uterus (also known as the womb) is a muscular organ supported by pelvic muscles and ligaments which can be stretched and weakened to the point they no longer hold up the uterus. This leads to uterine prolapse. The uterus migrates into the vagina, or birth canal. In cases of an incomplete prolapse the uterus drifts only partway into the vagina. When there is a complete prolapse the uterus sags so far into the vagina that part of it may extend to the outside of the birth canal. Symptoms are unmistakable although in cases of minor prolapse women may not notice anything. Moderate to severe prolapse shows up as follows:
* A woman feels like she’s sitting on a ball
* Vaginal bleeding
* Increased discharge
* Painful sexual intercourse
* Seeing the uterus or cervix protruding from the vagina
* Pulling sensation or heavy feeling in the pelvis
* Recurrent bladder infections
Risk factors and severity of symptoms increase as women age and estrogen levels decrease. Because the estrogen hormone strengthens the pelvis muscles, damage to pelvic muscles and tissues during pregnancy and childbirth can precipitate prolapse later in life. Women who have had multiple children, and postmenopausal women are at the greatest risk. Activities and conditions that place stress of the pelvic muscles increase the risk of prolapse. The following further increase the likelihood of prolapse:
* Chronic coughing
* Chronic constipation
Doctors can detect uterine prolapse through physical exam and by evaluating symptoms. During such exams doctors insert an instrument called a speculum to view the interior of the vagina and examine the vaginal canal and uterus.
Dr. Charles Newland, MD explains that there are both surgical and non-surgical options for this condition.
A Longview native, Newland graduated from Longview Christian School before attending Letourneau University and earning his undergraduate degree there. He took his medical degree from the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and finished his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas. A member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, the Texas Medical Association, and the Christian Medical Association, he and his wife are delighted to return to Longview.
For treatment options and questions in general, please contact Dr. Charles Newland with the Diagnostic Clinic of Longview at (903) 757-6042.