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Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Jun;109(6):1396-403.

Symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse: prevalence and risk factors in a population-based, racially diverse cohort.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.



To estimate the prevalence of and identify risk factors associated with symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse and level of distress in racially diverse women aged older than 40 years.


The Reproductive Risks for Incontinence Study at Kaiser is a population-based study of 2,001 randomly selected women. Symptomatic prolapse was determined by self-report of a feeling of bulge, pressure, or protrusion or a visible bulge from the vagina. Risk factors were assessed by self-report, interview, physical examination, and record review. Distress was assessed by self-report. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent risk factors.


Symptomatic prolapse was reported by 118 (6%) women. Almost 50% of these women reported moderate or great distress, and 35% reported that the symptoms affected at least one physical, social or sexual activity. In multivariable analysis, the risk of prolapse was significantly increased in women with one (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1-7.2), two (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.8-9.5), and three or more (OR 5.3, 95% CI 2.3-12.3) vaginal deliveries compared with nulliparous women. Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and self-reported fair or poor health status were strongly associated with prolapse, with ORs of 2.8 (95% CI 1.7-4.6), 2.5 (95% CI 1.7-3.7), and 2.3 (95% CI 1.1-4.9), respectively. African-American women were significantly less likely to report symptomatic prolapse compared with white women (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.8).


Symptomatic prolapse is less common among African-American women and more common among women with a prior vaginal delivery, poor health status, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome. Nearly one half of women with symptomatic prolapse are substantially bothered by their symptoms.

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