Risk Factors and Causes of Vaginal Prolapse

Vaginal prolapse occurs when muscles and ligaments in the pelvis are weakened or damaged, causing organs and structures within the pelvis to lose the support that holds them in place. Risk factors for developing cystocele, urethrocele, enterocele, rectocele, uterine prolapse, and vaginal vault prolapse include the following:

  • Age (more common in women over age 40)
  • Childbirth (especially multiple births, long labors, and large babies)
  • Chronic straining to empty the bowel or bladder (from constipation or bladder retention)
  • Menopause (reduces levels of estrogen, which helps strengthen muscles and ligaments)
  • Obesity
  • Prior hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, which helps support other pelvic structures)
  • Prior pelvic surgery (weakens supportive structures within the pelvis)
  • Strenuous activity (e.g., frequent heavy lifting)

Publication Review By: Amy Stein Wood, MPT, BCIA-PMDB, Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Apr 2006

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015