DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Prolapsed uterus. Close-up of a prolapsed uterus protruding from the vagina of a 77-year-old woman. This is third-degree prolapse (procidentia uteri), when the whole of the uterus protrudes out beyond the vaginal opening. This is caused by weakness in the pelvic muscles that should support the uterus. The prolapse is also associated with defects of the vaginal wall, often following numerous natural births. The pelvic muscles weaken with advancing age or following pelvic surgery. Surgery may be needed to repair the pelvic muscles or remove the uterus (hysterectomy). Alternatively, the use of a pessary, supports the uterus. Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
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