In Brief: Pelvic organ prolapse can run in the family

In Brief

Pelvic organ prolapse can run in the family

Published: May, 2007

Pelvic organ prolapse, a common disorder in women, is most often attributed to multiple vaginal births, which can damage the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs. Research conducted in pairs of sisters suggests that some women inherit a predisposition to developing pelvic organ prolapse. This could help explain why prolapse sometimes occurs in women who have never given birth — and doesn't occur in most women who do.

In pelvic organ prolapse, the uterus, bladder, urethra, or rectum protrude into weak spots in the vagina. Pressure, pain, difficulty urinating or defecating, and sexual problems may result. More than 10% of women in the United States have some degree of prolapse, and 300,000 women undergo surgery each year to correct it.

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