Vaginal prolapse may be genetically determined

May 25, 2005

Genetic factors may play a role in the pathophysiology of vaginal prolapse in women younger than 55 years, according to a study presented yesterday.

Genetic factors may play a role in the pathophysiology of vaginal prolapse in women younger than 55 years, according to a study presented yesterday.

A number of risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse have been identified, including number of vaginal deliveries, size of offspring, hormonal status, family history, and body mass index. However, the reason some women develop prolapse and others do not is unknown, said study author Gregory S. Jack, MD, of the departments of urology and human genetics at UCLA Medical Center.

Although the disorder typically peaks in the seventh decade of life, there is a subgroup of women who develop prolapse at a younger age, with symptoms as severe as those in older women.

"The objective of this study was to ask if there is a genetic predisposition to vaginal prolapse," Dr. Jack told Urology Times. "More important, if you can identify a genetic predisposition, are there families with such a strong genetic component that we can potentially isolate the gene."

A detailed history and physical examination was completed for each patient. The study group consisted of 10 women (mean age, 37 years) with severe vaginal prolapse who reported a family history of vaginal prolapse and who agreed to have their relatives contacted.

Results of genetic analysis of the inheritance pattern in this group of women indicated that pelvic organ prolapse appeared to segregate in a dominant fashion with incomplete penetrance in these families, Dr. Jack said.