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Family history places women at risk of pelvic organ prolapse, SLU research finds
Date:4/30/2008

ST. LOUIS -- Pelvic organ prolapse a tear or weakness in a womans pelvic floor muscles that allows her internal organs to fall outside the body runs in families, a new Saint Louis University study finds.

Women with a family member who has had a hernia or prolapse two conditions that cause internal organs to protrude through a body opening are more likely to develop prolapse themselves, says Mary McLennan, M.D., director of the division of urogynecology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead study author.

If your father has had a hernia and your mother has prolapse, you already have a risk of prolapse and should look at changing the things you can control to reduce your risk, says McLennan, who also is a Saint Louis University urogynecologist.

Other major risk factors within a womans control are having children vaginally, being overweight, chronically straining from constipation or doing a lot of lifting.

Prolapse affects more than one in five of all U.S. women and becomes more common as women age, occurring in 30 percent of U.S. women who are over 50. Women who have prolapse feel pressure or a heaviness when they stand. They could have problems emptying the bladder or the sensation of something dangling between their legs.

Its one of those problems you dont hear a lot about, and you should because its treatable, McLennan says.

Some women have surgery to resuspend and reposition the uterus, rectum or bladder to keep it inside the body. A more conservative treatment, McLennan says, is placing a plastic device inside the vagina to hold everything up.

Women with a family history of hernia or prolapse were at 1.4 times the risk of prolapse than those without a close relative with the problem.

SLU researchers studied 458 women who came into a gynecologists office for care. Nearly half had a family member a grandparent, parent or sibling -- with a hernia or prolapse. Of these
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Contact: Nancy Solomon
solomonn@slu.edu
314-977-8017
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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