Did you know it’s possible for your internal organs to come out of your vagina? I didn’t until it happened.
That’s a scary and uncomfortable thought isn’t it. I bet you just did a kegal and crossed your legs.
Not only is there the physical sensation of prolapse something to understand and deal with, there can also be a psychological impact too (sometimes affecting women more so than the physical symptoms).
- The fear, anxiety and worry that you are broken and will be broken forever.
- The fear of doing things because you don’t want to make your prolapse worse.
- The daily focus on making sure your bowel habits are healthy so it does not cause any further issues with prolapse.
It may be invisible to the rest of the world but it can be a BIG deal for those that experience prolapse.
I’m not sharing this to scare you. What I am describing is a reality for many women. But I want to bring you hope and raise awareness, considering it is Pelvic Organ Prolapse awareness month. I 100% believe in education. If women have a better understanding of their bodies throughout the different stages and phases of their lives, they are in a better position to:
- Prevent such occurrences in the first place,
- Reduce the severity if it does occur and also
- Help them understand their experiences and know when and where to seek help.
NOW THAT IS WHY I’m sharing some uncomfortable information. So you can make more informed decisions and choices about your health.
So, What is a prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is when the bladder, bowel and/or uterus descend or fall down into the vaginal cavity and sometimes protrude outside the body. There are different types and grades of POP.
What causes POP?
Anything that puts additional pressure on the pelvic floor can increase the likelihood of developing POP. Common causes are:
- Aging and menopause
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic coughing
- Heavy lifting
How do I know if I have one?
Symptoms of POP include:
- Feeling of heaviness/bulging in the vagina
- Pressure or pain in the pelvis
- Lack of sensation or painful sex
- Inability to completely empty bladder or bowel
However it is important to note that some people with pop do not experience any symptoms. A womens health physiotherapist or doctor can assess and diagnose for pop.
What can I do if I have a prolapse?
Having a prolapse doesn’t mean you have to stop all activity for the rest of your life. You may need to learn to adapt and modify your exercise, but finding a way to exercise with prolapse is super important for our overall physical and mental health (and it’s what I LOVE helping mums to do!).
Treatment options for prolapse
- In the first instance – seek assessment and advice from a women’s health physio (WHP). They are our eyes on the inside and can help us better understand our pelvic area, its tissues, structures and function. They will look at posture, breathing, core function, bowel habits and likely start you off with some safe exercises, stretches, general strengthening with progressive overload.
- Work with a trainer who understands prolapse and how to program prolapse safe exercises for you. A trainer that has a good relationship with your women’s health physio & can work in with your WHP and medical professionals to get the best outcome for you. General strengthening exercises, starting small and progressively overloading at a safe pace allows you to be stronger and more efficient in your movements, therefore reducing the load/impact on the pelvic floor.
- Depending on the type of prolapse, severity and symptoms, some women find support with a pessary – a silicone supporting device inserted into the vagina. Think of it like a knee brace when you have a knee injury – it supports the structures and allows more effective and efficient function of the pelvic floor.
- Whilst surgery is not the first option, a conservative approach with WHP and exercise first is recommended, some women will require surgery. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with your medical professionals to ensure it is right for you.
Whilst it can be a scary thought and experience, it is common and there ARE amazing people available to help you manage your symptoms and support you.
Here are some links to really helpful resources for POP:
POPUP – An Uplifting Guide for Managing Pelvic Organ Prolapse *Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link
Managing prolapse is so much more than Kegals. Understanding your body, whole body strength training, improving core function, posture awareness and breath work are all important in managing prolapse. Women with prolapse do go on to have more babies, return to heavy lifting, run marathons and everything in between but it does require the right help and support.
Will you join my mission?
I am on a mission to increase awareness around pelvic health and pelvic organ prolapse. I believe education is empowering. How cool would it be if our sisters, friends, daughters, nieces etc could prevent or reduce the risk of prolapse and have a more positive experience should it occur?
Help me spread the word by sharing the article and talking about prolapse (& pelvic health) with your friends/family.