What is uterine prolapse and can it be caused by vigorous dancing?

What is a uterine prolapse? [Photo: Getty]
What is a uterine prolapse? [Photo: Getty]

A woman’s uterus reportedly slipped out of place and protruded out of her vagina after a vigorous dancing session.

According to Chinese video news site, Pear, the unidentified woman, 60, went to the Maternal and Child Health Centre in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, for medical assistance.

Dr Song Hongjuan, a supervisor at the hospital, examined the woman and discovered her womb had slipped down.

She explained that the pensioner had actually suffered from uterine prolapse, a condition that sees the womb slipping towards, or into, the vagina.

Though the woman feared it was the dancing session that had caused the prolapse, Dr Song explained she thought it was more likely caused by the woman’s uterus being weakened from childbirth.

According to the Daily Mail, the doctor theorised that the woman had given birth to a large baby at a young age and never been treated for her prolapse.

Following successful surgery, to correct the problem the woman is now on her way to recovery, which is great news but it has left us wondering what we can do to stop our own down-theres slipping.

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What is a uterine prolapse?

According to the NHS a pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina.

It can be the womb (uterus), bowel, bladder or top of the vagina.

Symptoms of the condition include a feeling of heaviness around your lower tummy and genitals (pelvis), a dragging discomfort inside your vagina, feeling like there is something coming down into your vagina – it may feel like sitting on a small ball, discomfort or numbness during sex and problems peeing.

Causes of uterine prolapse

Before we vow never to hit the dancefloor ever again, Mr Ian Currie, consultant gynaecologist at BMI The Chiltern Hospital in Buckinghamshire says it is unlikely throwing some vigorous shapes will cause us to lose our wombs.

“I doubt that dancing caused this lady’s distress, as a prolapse is something that happens gradually,” he explains.

“Usually you don’t know you have one until the prolapse starts to come out of the vagina and you can see or feel it,” he adds.

Mr Currie says that occasionally women feel a fullness inside during the early stages but most will present as the prolapse progressively gets worse.

“A prolapse is more prone to show itself if you put the pelvic floor under pressure, like lifting a heavy object or straining through constipation.

“Gravity could also play a part, which is why a prolapse is less likely to show in the morning when you’ve been horizontal and relaxed than it is in the evening when you’ve been on the go and vertical,” he adds.

Can vigorous dancing cause a uterine prolapse [Photo: Getty]
Can vigorous dancing cause a uterine prolapse [Photo: Getty]

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Who is more at risk?

According to Mr Currie age, genetics and menopause are associated with increased risk of prolapse, as tissues get weaker and a falling quantity of oestrogen causes changes in collagen.

Are women who have big babies more at risk?

Not necessarily, says Mr Currie. “Pregnancy and birth are not the only factors in themselves, contrary to popular belief – you can have two women who both have had big babies and one woman may have a prolapse and the other does not.

“Having a large baby does not necessarily lead to prolapse, but as the birth process itself is a memorable event it tends to get blamed for causing the prolapse,” he adds.

Women who have had c-sections are not totally protected from getting prolapse either.

“The majority of prolapse that I see is actually vaginal prolapse, where the front or back walls of the vagina collapse, rather than uterine prolapse,” Currie explains. “Women who have had hysterectomies can still prolapse, as the vagina no longer has the uterus to secure it in place.”

Experts advise new mums to practice pelvic floor exercises after giving birth, which can help prevent prolapses.

How is it treated?

The NHS website says that while a uterine prolapse can cause pain and discomfort, it is not life-threatening.

The condition can be treated through surgery, hormone treatment and use of certain medical devices.

But there are also several lifestyle changes the NHS suggests women who experience a prolapse adopt that could ease symptoms and stop the prolapse getting worse. They can also help to reduce your risk of getting a prolapse in the first place.

They include:

  • doing regular pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your muscles

  • maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you’re overweight

  • eating a high-fibre diet to avoid constipation

  • avoiding lifting heavy objects

  • avoiding high-impact exercise, such as trampolining

  • quitting smoking – it can cause coughing and make the prolapse worse