In the journals: Pelvic organ prolapse: Vaginal delivery is not the only cause

In the journals

Pelvic organ prolapse: Vaginal delivery is not the only cause

As many as one-third of women at midlife have some kind of pelvic organ prolapse — a condition in which uterine, bladder, urethral, or rectal tissue protrudes into the vagina. The risk of pelvic organ prolapse increases with age, and it's more common in women who've given birth vaginally. Still, vaginal delivery doesn't explain why many mothers who've given birth vaginally escape prolapse and some childless women develop the condition. So researchers have sought other risk factors. In May 2007, Harvard Women's Health Watch reported that genetics plays a significant role. Now, a report in the May 2009 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology indicates that several other factors, including lifestyle, may also be involved.

Researchers surveyed 5,489 Swedish women, ages 30 to 78. The 454 women identified as having pelvic organ prolapse and a randomly selected control group of 405 women without the condition answered a 72-question survey that covered educational background, occupation(s), health history, and lifestyle.

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