A new American study, Relation between vaginal birth and pelvic organ prolapse (by Eddie H. M. Sze and Gerry Hobbs), set out to "evaluate the relation between vaginal birth and pelvic organ prolapse quantification (POPQ) stages III and IV prolapse and whether each additional vaginal birth is associated with an increase in pelvic support defects."
The researchers conclude that "Vaginal birth is not associated with POPQ stages III and IV prolapse, but it is associated with an increase in POPQ stage II defect."
Birth risk/benefit analysis
This study demonstrates that there IS a link between vaginal delivery and subsequent pelvic organ prolapse (POP), and is in fact one of a number of studies to do so. Unfortunately, women planning vaginal deliveries are not always advised of this risk. In fact, in the U.S. December 2006 'Pelvic Organ Prolapse Topline Summary by ICR', an Ethicon Women's Health & Urology survey found that among the total female population age 21 and older, only 1 in 5 (19%) are even aware that such a female condition exists.
Furthermore, 2 out of 3 (68%) women diagnosed with POP were not aware of its existence before experiencing symptoms, and the majority (81%) of women who have given birth did not receive education about the relationship between a vaginal delivery and possible pelvic organ prolapse from their OB/GYN.
Are we truly informing women of the risks associated with vaginal delivery?
"Only 15% of women who have given birth report that their OB/GYN educated them about the relationship between a vaginal delivery and the condition [yet the] greatest risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse is a vaginal delivery, at any age."
Sze and Hobbs analyzed 458 nulliparas (first-time mothers) and 892 multiparas, including 272 with one, 299 with two and 321 with at least three term vaginal deliveries, and found that the "prevalence of POPQ stage II defect among nulliparas and multiparas that had one, two, and at least three term vaginal deliveries was 25% (119/458), 50% (137/272), 66% (198/299), and 69% (220/321), respectively (p<0.001), p="0.618)." style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 102);">