Heavy Load Carrying and Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse among Women in Tanzania and Nepal: An Exploratory Study

/ / Faculty Research in Africa, Faculty Research in Asia, Research

UC BERKELEY AUTHORS: Aybüke Koyuncu, Jillian L Kadota, Sandra I McCoy, Michael N Bates, Carisa Harris-Adamson, Ndola Prata


REGION: South Asia & East Africa

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031279

SUMMARY/ABSTRACT: Heavy load carrying of water, firewood, and sand/stones is a ubiquitous activity for women living in developing countries. Although the intra-abdominal pressure associated with heavy load carrying is hypothesized to increase the risk of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) among women, relevant epidemiologic data are lacking. We conducted a comparative study involving two exploratory cross-sectional studies among convenience samples of women carrying heavy loads, with different characteristics: (1) as part of their activities for daily living, in Shinyanga region, Tanzania; and (2) working as sand miners in Pokhara, Nepal. Women were categorized has having “low” or “high” load-carrying exposures based on the measured weights of the loads being carried at the time of the survey, as well as on self-reported duration and frequency of load carrying. A summary score for lower abdominal discomfort suggestive of POP was generated using questions from the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Distress Inventory (POPDI-6). Women with higher load carrying exposures had on average higher discomfort scores in both Tanzania (adjusted prevalence difference (PDa) = 3.7; 95% CI: -3.8-11.3; p = 0.33) and Nepal (PDa = 9.3; 95% CI: -4.9-23.6; p = 0.18). We identified trends suggestive of an association between increasing heavy load carrying exposures and symptoms of lower abdominal discomfort. Our findings underscore the need for larger epidemiologic studies of the potential adverse reproductive health effects of heavy load carrying activities on women in developing countries.

ACCESS: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33572663/