IFGH 2012: Uterine Prolapse: An Examination of the Physical and Social Consequences of a Chronic Morbidity on Women’s Lives

January 29, 2012


Authors:Khan R., Bilkis S., Blum LS.

Author Affiliations:International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B)

Option 1– Scientific / Empirical Research Findings Presented as – Poster (unable to present)


WHO estimates that maternal disabilities resulting from severe obstetric complications affect 15-20 million women worldwide each year. These disabilities include severe anemia, fistula, incontinence, nerve damage, pituitary failure, depression, infertility and uterine prolapse. This study explored the consequences of uterine prolapse on women’s daily activities, social life, relationship with their husband, hygiene, and careseeking practices


Qualitative research was carried out in Matlab, Bangladesh between January 2007 and June 2008 with using of in- depth interviews.


We identified 3 women with first degree, 7 women with second degree, and 2 women with third degree prolapse. Uterine prolapse was described as a “peeling onion” red in color or an egg falling from the vagina. Respondents believed that women developed prolapse due to the fact that they carried out heavy chores or had sexual intercourse shortly after childbirth. Women with second and third degree prolapse experienced many physical consequences resulting from their condition, including extreme discomfort while sitting, white and bloody secretions coming from and infections on the body of the prolapsed uterus, and pain during intercourse. These physical consequences often interfered with their ability to carry out household chores, care for other children, and satisfy their husband’s sexual demands, leading to marital violence and desolation over time. Treatment seeking was often inappropriate due to lack of information about the condition, family’s poor economic status, and the fact that that it was associated with female sexual organs, which made women ashamed to share the condition.


The data suggests that uterine prolapse is a relatively common condition among rural women in Bangladesh that causes extreme hardship. Health planners should develop ways to raise awareness about this issue for appropriate care for the affected women.


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