When it comes to medical terminology, there are various words that might seem confusing at first. Prom is definitely one of those terms that might puzzle you, especially if you’re not directly involved in the medical field. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about what prom means in medical terms.
What is Prom?
PROM stands for premature rupture of membranes. This medical term is used to describe a condition where the amniotic sac that surrounds a fetus tears or ruptures before labor begins. The amniotic sac is responsible for protecting the baby from infections or traumas, and it is filled with amniotic fluid that allows the fetus to move and grow.
PROM is also known as pre-labor rupture of membranes, and it can happen anytime during pregnancy, although it’s more frequent in the late second or early third trimester. When PROM occurs at term, it’s often referred to as term premature rupture of membranes or TPROM, whereas preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) is when it happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
What Causes Prom?
There are various reasons why PROM might happen, and oftentimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause. However, some common factors that might lead to premature rupture of membranes include:
- Infections. Certain infections, such as urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted diseases, can weaken the amniotic sac and increase the risk of PROM.
- Smoking. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to experience premature rupture of membranes due to the toxic effects of cigarette smoke on the membranes.
- Multiple pregnancies. Women carrying twins or triplets are more prone to develop PROM because the uterus is under more pressure.
- Previous history of PROM. Women who have experienced PROM in a previous pregnancy are more likely to have it happen again.
What are the Symptoms of Prom?
The symptoms of PROM can vary from person to person, but some common signs include:
- A gush of fluid. The most obvious symptom of PROM is a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina that is often mistaken for urine.
- A constant trickle of fluid. Some women might experience a continuous flow of fluids from their vagina after the membranes have ruptured.
- Less fetal movement. If there’s less amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus, it might not be able to move as freely as before, which can lead to a decrease in fetal movement.
How is Prom Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you’ve experienced premature rupture of membranes, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis, which might include:
- Visual inspection. Your doctor will examine your vagina and cervix for signs of amniotic fluid leakage.
- Nitrazine test. This test involves swabbing the vagina to check for alkaline properties in the fluid, which indicates the presence of amniotic fluid.
- Amnisure test. A small swab is used to collect a sample of the fluid, which is then tested for a protein that’s specific to amniotic fluid.
- Ultrasound. A routine ultrasound can assess the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby and check the baby’s well-being.
What are the Risks of Prom?
PROM carries various risks both for the mother and the baby, which is why prompt medical attention is necessary. Some potential complications include:
- Infection. When the amniotic sac ruptures, bacteria can enter the uterus and infect the baby and the mother.
- Preterm labor. After the membranes have ruptured, the body might start preparing for labor, which can lead to premature birth.
- Cord prolapse. When the membranes rupture, the umbilical cord can slip into the birth canal before the baby, which can lead to compression and oxygen deprivation.
How is Prom Treated?
The treatment for PROM depends on how far along the pregnancy is and whether there are any signs of infection or preterm labor. In some cases, the body might naturally start labor within a few days after the membranes have ruptured, but in others, intervention might be necessary to prevent complications. Some possible treatments include:
- Expectant management. If the baby is not in distress and it’s still too early to induce labor, your healthcare provider might recommend monitoring your condition closely with regular ultrasounds and non-stress tests.
- Antibiotics. If there are signs of infection, you might need to receive antibiotics to prevent further complications.
- Inducing labor. If the baby is mature enough and there are no contraindications, your healthcare provider might recommend inducing labor to avoid infection or preterm birth.
- C-section. In some cases, a cesarean section might be necessary if the baby is not tolerating labor or if there are other complications.
PROM can be a scary and unexpected event during pregnancy, but with the right medical care, the risks for both the mother and the baby can be minimized. The key is to seek prompt medical attention and to follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider.
- Q: What are the signs of premature rupture of membranes?
- A: The most common signs of premature rupture of membranes are a sudden gush or a constant trickle of fluid from the vagina and a decrease in fetal movement.
- Q: Is premature rupture of membranes dangerous?
- A: Premature rupture of membranes can lead to various complications, including infection, preterm labor, and fetal distress, which is why it requires prompt medical attention.
- Q: How is premature rupture of membranes diagnosed?
- A: Premature rupture of membranes is diagnosed through a physical exam and a series of tests, such as visual inspection, nitrazine test, amnisure test, and ultrasound.
- Q: Can premature rupture of membranes be prevented?
- A: While it’s not always possible to prevent premature rupture of membranes, some risk factors, such as smoking and infections, can be avoided or treated to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
- “Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)” by Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premature-rupture-of-membranes/symptoms-causes/syc-20376542
- “Preterm premature rupture of membranes” by Maged Mikhail and Alison G. Cahill, UpToDate, https://www.uptodate.com/contents/preterm-premature-rupture-of-membranes
- “Preterm (Premature) Labor and Birth” by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-premature-labor-and-birth