Posterior vaginal prolapse and bowel function

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Dec;179(6 Pt 1):1446-9; discussion 1449-50. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(98)70008-0.


Objective: This study's objectives were to describe symptoms related to bowel dysfunction in women with uterovaginal prolapse and to compare these symptoms according to extent of posterior vaginal prolapse.

Study design: One hundred forty-three women completed a questionnaire assessment of bowel function and underwent standardized physical examination according to the International Continence Society's system for grading uterovaginal prolapse.

Results: The mean age was 59.2 years (SD 11.8 years); 78% of the women were postmenopausal. According to the furthest extent of posterior vaginal prolapse at point Bp, 22 (15.5%) were in stage 0, 46 (32.4%) were in stage I, 50 (35.2%) were in stage II, 23 (16.2%) were in stage III, and 1 (0.7%) was in stage IV. Ninety-two percent of women reported having bowel movements at least every other day. When asked whether straining was required for them to have a bowel movement, 38 (26.6%) reported never or rarely, 71 (49.6%) reported sometimes, 20 (14.0%) reported usually, and 14 (9.8%) reported always. When asked whether they ever needed to help stool come out by pushing with a finger in the vagina or rectum, 98 (69.0%) reported never or rarely, 30 (21.1%) reported sometimes, 8 (5.6%) reported usually, and 6 (4.2%) reported always. Twenty-three women (16.1%) had fecal incontinence, with 11 having loss of control of stool less often than once a month and 12 having it more often than once a month. When asked whether to rate how much they were bothered by their bowel function on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all and 10 being extremely, 51.7% of women chose 1 to 4, 20.3% chose 5 to 7, and 28% chose >/=8. There were no clinically significant associations between any of the questions related to bowel function and severity of posterior vaginal prolapse.

Conclusion: Women with uterovaginal prolapse frequently have symptoms related to bowel dysfunction, but this is not associated with the severity of posterior vaginal prolapse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Defecation*
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectocele / classification
  • Rectocele / complications
  • Rectocele / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Prolapse / classification
  • Uterine Prolapse / complications
  • Uterine Prolapse / physiopathology*