While doom-scrolling TikTok the other night, I came across a video that scared the bejeezus out of me. Here is the eight-second horror film in question:
The combination of terror and confusion this video elicited from me gave me no choice but to reach out to the creator. I didn’t want closure — I NEEDED it. Lauren K., a senior in high school, told BuzzFeed that after waking up from her own fart last summer, she saw her uterus in her underwear.
“After sitting up, the discomfort increased,” she said. “The only way I could describe it would be like laying an egg or sitting on a ping pong ball. I went to the bathroom shortly after sitting up, and low and behold, something was hanging out of me. I took a photo and went to my mom’s room to ask if she would take me to the hospital. At this point it was 3 a.m., and I was starting to freak out a bit. My mom said she would help me in the morning, and I went back to sleep. When I woke up around 10 a.m., it was back inside me. I had thought I dreamed it until I saw the photo I took.”
Lauren didn’t share the photo she took with me, nor did I ask for it, so here’s a cartoon she said her uterus resembled:
Lauren said her mother took her to the hospital that afternoon, but “by this point, I knew it was a uterine prolapse after googling some pictures of them.” According to the Mayo Clinic, uterine prolapse is when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are weakened to the point of not being able to provide enough support for the uterus, so the uterus either slips into or protrudes out of the vagina.
“I was seen a few hours after getting to the ER, and they said there was nothing they could do because it was not protruding anymore. They then offered me a pelvic exam. I consented because I was told they didn’t hurt. I’ll never forget that pain — they took the metal scapula and stuck it down there. I tried to let them do what they needed to do, but it was too painful so I told them to stop. They gave me a referral to a gynecologist and I was on my way,” Lauren said.
But even when Lauren went to see a gynecologist, she still received no clarity on what happened. “The gynecologist completely denied it happened because of how young I am. She dismissed me. … I tried to explain that I had proof, but she was making me feel crazy.” A month later, she finally got some answers after speaking to her gastroenterologist. “He told me my prolapse was due to my weakened pelvic floor from my constipation. He said with enough strain, the uterus or rectum can fall.” Lauren has Irritable Bowl Syndrome, a chronic condition that can cause severe constipation.
Thankfully, Lauren hasn’t had a medical emergency since the fart incident, but she’s still on edge about her pelvic floor. “Sometimes I feel [my uterus] slipping when I cough, sneeze, lift, or strain, and it scares me every time. I asked my primary care physician to refer me to a new gynecologist a few months ago, but I haven’t heard back.”
To find out more information on uterine prolapse, and how common it really is, I reached out to Dr. Marguerite Brathwaite, MD, F.A.C.O.G., a board-certified OB-GYN and owner and founder of Innovative Women’s Care in Las Vegas, Nevada.
First and foremost, Dr. Brathwaite wanted to minimize fear in younger readers by emphasizing that uterine prolapse is VERY unlikely in young people. “It is not normal for a fart to cause your uterus to come out in a young person,” she said. “When someone has a weak or damaged pelvic floor … the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue have lost their strength, tension, and integrity. This usually occurs with an older person in their 50–70s, who has experienced child bearing, chronic constipation, severe coughing, obesity, hormonal changes during menopause, or hysterectomies. Some people who are genetically susceptible to having poor tissue integrity can have uterine or vaginal prolapse, or urinary incontinence. But usually a person who hasn’t had children or injury to their connective tissue/muscles in their pelvis, and is young, won’t experience prolapse. Especially with just farting.”
In terms of the type of treatment needed for this issue if it DOES happen, Dr. Brathwaite said it depends on the degree of the prolapse. “If it is mild, and just descending a bit in the vagina, Kegel exercises or pelvic floor therapy can help strengthen the muscles.” If it’s more severe, “surgical intervention with suspension and tightening of the muscles to help re-suspend the organs, or sometimes hysterectomy with suspension of the ligaments, is needed.”
If you’re interested in taking any and all measures to try to prevent uterine prolapse, here’s what the doctor recommends: “Maintain good pelvic floor strength, practice Kegel exercises, use stool softeners, increase fiber in your diet to not have strain and prevent constipation, use cough suppressants when you have severe coughing, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise.” But Dr. Brathwaite noted that even with these preventative measures, prolapse can still happen. “If it happens, see your OB-GYN, who can help get you into pelvic floor therapy and rehab, or refer you to a urogynecologist for surgical intervention. And for older women who don’t desire surgery, they may use a pessary to help push up the organs and decrease the pressure and pelvic discomfort they may feel from the prolapse.”