Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Prolapsed uterus

4-minute read

What is a prolapsed uterus?

Prolapsed uterus (also called uterine prolapse or pelvic organ prolapse) is when the uterus drops down towards the vaginal opening. It may protrude outside of the vagina.

Doctors use a grading system to describe how much of the uterus has pushed down into the vagina:

  • Stage 1 is when the uterus protrudes a little way into the vagina
  • Stage 2 is when the uterus protrudes close to the vaginal opening
  • Stage 3 is when the uterus protrudes outside of the vagina

In some women, the bladder and bowel can also prolapse. If the bladder bulges into the front wall of the vagina, it is called a cystocoele. If the bowel bulges through the back wall, it is called a rectocele.

Prolapse usually worsens without any treatment, so it’s important to seek medical help.

Illustration of a prolapsed uterus.
A prolapsed uterus occurs when the uterus falls down towards the vaginal opening. This can happen if the pelvic floor muscles are stretched or weakened.

What are the symptoms of a prolapsed uterus?

Women who have a prolapsed uterus may :

  • a sensation of fullness or pressure inside the vagina
  • a lump or bulge in, or out of, the vagina
  • a sensation of heaviness or dragging in the pelvis or vagina
  • an inability to completely empty the bladder or the bowel when going to the toilet
  • straining to get urine flow started, or to empty the bowel
  • bowel or bladder urgency (needing to go very suddenly) or incontinence
  • pain during sex or less sensation during sex
  • lower back pain
  • urinary tract infections that keep coming back

What causes a prolapsed uterus?

A prolapse occurs when the ligaments that hold the pelvic organs in place are stretched or weakened. This can happen when something puts pressure on the pelvic floor, for example due to:

  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • prolonged constipation, or regularly straining on the toilet
  • repetitive heavy lifting (for example, of children or grandchildren, or weights)
  • being overweight
  • smoking
  • chronic coughing

Women are more likely to have a prolapse after menopause due to a lack of oestrogen, a hormone that keeps the vagina healthy

How is a prolapsed uterus diagnosed?

If you think you might have a prolapse, your doctor will talk to you and examine you. You will need to have an internal examination. You may also be asked to have tests like ultrasounds and urine tests.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is a prolapsed uterus treated?

The treatment suggested will depend on the type and extent of the prolapse. Whatever the course of action, it is important that you do something about the prolapse or your symptoms are likely to get worse.

In some women, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and changing their daily activities may be all that is needed. You may be recommended to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist or a continence nurse to help with this.

Some women may be offered a ring pessary, which is a small disc put high in the vagina as a support.

In severe cases, women will be advised to have surgery to repair weakened tissues, insert synthetic mesh to replace damaged tissues, or remove the uterus entirely (hysterectomy).

You can make some changes to manage the prolapse through:

  • regular pelvic floor exercises
  • regular physical activity
  • avoiding heavy lifting
  • avoiding high impact exercise
  • eating high fibre foods and drinking plenty of fluid (to prevent constipation)
  • achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • not smoking

Can a prolapsed uterus be prevented?

The best thing you can do to prevent a prolapsed uterus is to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong. You can do this with pelvic floor exercises:

Visit the Continence Foundation's Pelvic Floor First website for more information about the pelvic floor and how to keep it strong.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Prolapsed uterus -

A prolapsed uterus (uterine prolapse) is when the uterus (womb) drops down from its normal position. It may cause no symptoms but if troublesome can be treated with self-care measures, pessaries or surgery.

Read more on myDr website

Prolapsed uterus - Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Urogynaecological (transvaginal) surgical mesh hub | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

This hub provides information and support related to urogynaecological (transvaginal) surgical mesh devices. Urogynaecological mesh implants have benefited some women in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Other women, however, have experienced very serious complications with these devices.

Read more on TGA – Therapeutic Goods Administration website

Prolapse & Bladder Weakness | Jean Hailes

Uterine and vaginal prolapse. What is it and how is it treated? Learn about types of prolapses, what puts you at a greater risk and how to prevent them.

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Contraception: vaginal ring -

The vaginal ring (brand name NuvaRing) is a type of hormonal contraception. When used properly, the vaginal ring is an effective and safe way of preventing pregnancy.

Read more on myDr website

Congenital heart defects -

Congenital heart defects are problems with the structure of the heart that are present from birth. The defects develop during pregnancy. In Australia, as many as one baby in 100 is born with a heart defect.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.