Common Health Problems with Aging 131
Fallen womb (prolapsed uterus)
Sometimes, as a woman gets older, the muscles that hold up
her womb become weak. The womb can fall down into her
vagina and part of it may even stick out between the folds of
the vulva. In very bad cases, the whole womb can fall outside
the vulva when a woman passes stool, coughs, sneezes, or lifts
A fallen womb is usually caused by damage during
childbirth—especially if the woman has had many babies or
babies born close together. It can also happen if the woman
pushed too early during her labor, or if the birth attendant
pushed on the mother’s belly from the outside. But both aging
and lifting heavy things can make it worse. The signs often
appear after menopause, when the muscles become weaker.
• You need to pass urine often, or it is difficult to pass urine,
or urine leaks out of your body.
• You have pain in your lower back.
• You feel as though something is coming out of your vagina.
• All of the above signs disappear when you lie down.
The ‘squeezing exercise’ can make the muscles around the
womb and vagina stronger. If you have been doing this exercise
every day for 3 or 4 months and it does not help, talk to a
health worker. You may need a vaginal pessary (a piece of
rubber shaped like a ring) that you put high up in the vagina to
keep the womb in place. If this does not work, you may need
Kinds of Vaginal Pessaries
If pessaries are not available where you live, ask older
women in your community what they use for this problem.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012