Body image perceptions in women with pelvic organ prolapse: A qualitative study

Jerry L. Lowder, Chiara Ghetti, Cara Nikolajski, Sallie S. Oliphant, Halina M. Zyczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe perceptions of prolapse-specific body image in women with symptomatic prolapse. Study Design: Women with symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse quantification stage ≤ II prolapse participated in semistructured focus groups or self-report questionnaire. Transcripts were independently reviewed and body image themes were identified and confirmed by consensus. Results: Twenty-five women participated in focus groups and 27 in online questionnaires. Transcript analysis revealed 3 central themes and 25 body-image related subthemes. Women living with prolapse were more likely to feel self-conscious, isolated, "different," less feminine, and less attractive. Women often changed sexual intimacy practices because of embarrassment or discomfort, and many avoided intimacy all together. Prolapse greatly affected women's personal and professional activities causing some women to adjust routines or stop activities. Women reported loss of interest in activities, distraction while performing daily/work-related tasks, and embarrassment when asking for help with activities. Conclusion: Themes identified in this qualitative study demonstrate the profound effect of prolapse on a woman's body image.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441.e1-441.e5
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • body image
  • pelvic organ prolapse

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