Last reviewed 01/2018

Aetiology of pelvic organ prolapse is multifactorial. It may be due to:

  • weakness of the support structures - caused by a defect in the  complex interaction between the levator ani, the vagina, and the connective tissue
  • neuropathic injury  - caused by stretching of the pudendal nerves that may occur during child birth

The following risk factors are associated with POP:

  • established risk factors
    • higher parity
      • increasing vaginal parity was the strongest risk factor for POP in women < 60 years
    • vaginal childbirth
    • advancing age
      • prevalence of POP increases by 40% with each decade of life
    • obesity
    • previous hysterectomy
  • potential risk factors
    • forceps delivery
    • other obstetric factors
      • high infant birth weight >4500 g
      • prolonged second stage of labour
      • age <25 years at first delivery
    • family history of pelvic organ prolapse
      • risk of prolapse is higher if mother or sister has prolapse
    • shape and orientation of bony pelvis
    • occupations which requires heavy lifting
    • constipation
    • connective tissue disorders
      • an association between POP and a variation of collagen type 1 gene has been reported (1,2)