Vaginal delivery ups risk of pelvic organ prolapse

Vaginal delivery ups risk of pelvic organ prolapse
Credit: Shutterstock

(Medical Xpress)—Women who give birth vaginally are at increased risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse during the year after delivery, according to a study of Chinese women by researchers at Yale School of Medicine and Wenzhou Third People's Hospital.

Published online today in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the results show that factors unique to labor and delivery made the relax and not recover its former support during the year after birth. These factors were not present in women who delivered via cesarean section (c-section).

"The choice between and c-section is a complex one, and our results are not meant to promote one over the other," said Dr. Marsha K. Guess, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "Our data will be useful to women and their obstetric providers as they weigh childbirth options."

Pelvic organ prolapse is a common condition among women who have given birth vaginally. Hormonal changes, increased pressure, and the baby's passage through the birth canal can damage connective tissue, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. The vagina and the surrounding organs relax, lose their support, and fall from their normal positions, leading to a host of complications such as urinary incontinence and bowel control. It is thought that some women are genetically predisposed to having an abnormal repair process after delivery, which may also contribute to .

In this prospective observational study, Guess, corresponding author Yi Chen, and colleagues, compared changes in pelvic during late pregnancy with changes at three different points in time within one year after delivery. Between April and May 2009, they evaluated 110 women at the obstetrics clinic in Wenzhou Third People's Hospital in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China. These women were in their 36th-38th week of pregnancy and were planning to undergo an elective c-section or vaginal delivery.

They found that many women develop moderate prolapse in late pregnancy; however, women who underwent vaginal delivery or c-section after laboring were less likely to recover from prolapse at six weeks, six months, and one year postpartum, compared to those who delivered after an elective c-section with no labor.

"Our study is among the few that provide information about short- and long-term effects of labor and route of delivery on pelvic floor support to determine if and when recovery of pelvic floor support structures occurs over long durations of time," said Guess. "More research should be done to better identify women at greatest risk for, or predisposed to developing, long-term pelvic floor consequences."

More information: Guess, M. et al. BJOG Vol. 120, Issue 8, (July 2013). onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10… -0528.12369/abstract

Related Stories

Long-term consequences of vaginal delivery

Jan 30, 2013

Women are more likely to experience urinary incontinence, prolapse and faecal incontinence 20 years after one vaginal delivery rather than one caesarean section, finds new research published in a thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, ...

Recommended for you

Is egg freezing an empowering option for women?

Nov 17, 2014

Katie Hammond, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology researching the experience of egg donation in Canada, discusses the recent decision by tech giants Facebook and Apple to offer egg freezing to ...

Peripheral nerve blocks OK for migraines in pregnancy

Nov 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—For migraines that do not respond to medications, peripheral nerve blocks may be a treatment option in pregnant women, according to research published online Nov. 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Hearing the heart of the mother and her baby

Nov 14, 2014

A group of students from the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico (UAM-I) developed a technological portable prototype able to diagnose health conditions in the mother and in the baby by monitoring ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.