WHAT IS IT AND WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
A pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when any of the pelvic organs – bladder/urethra, uterus/cervix, or rectum drop down from their normal position and bulge into the vaginal space. The pelvic floor muscles, pelvic ligaments and pelvic tissues hold up the pelvic organs. Any excessive stretch, weakness or damage to any of the supporting structures can lead to prolapse of one or more of the pelvic organ(s).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A POP?
The most common symptoms are the feeling of a bulge in your vagina, a dragging or heavy sensation in your vaginal and pelvic area, or even a low back ache. Having a prolapse can also contribute to bladder and bowel dysfunction as well as impact sexual function. The symptoms can fluctuate and may be worse before and during menstruation, after passing bowel motions, with heavy lifting or prolonged standing.
WHO IS AT RISK?
The most common time for women to develop a prolapse is after pregnancy and childbirth. Did you know that 1 in 2 women who have delivered a baby may experience a POP?
It can also occur in women who have been through menopause, as well as in women with chronic straining to this area such as with constipation and coughing. Heavy lifting, high impact exercise, an increase in body weight, and even genetics can play a role.
SO…WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT?
A Physiotherapist with an interest in Women’s Health can assist in diagnosing the type and stage of prolapse that you may have. They will then provide evidence-based management, which may involve education and lifestyle advice, pelvic floor exercises and discuss the use of a pessary (support device for a prolapse).
An individualised strengthening program for the Pelvic Floor Muscles will help to improve support of the pelvic organs and can reduce symptoms of heaviness as well as improve bladder and bowel control. It is particularly helpful for mild to moderate prolapse and can also assist in prevention of recurrence of the POP.
A Physiotherapist can also help guide you on how to modify work and home activities that may be aggravating your symptoms, as well as develop a pelvic-floor safe exercise program to help you to achieve your fitness goals.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
Women can be susceptible to developing a pelvic organ prolapse at various stages during their lives. Prevention is always best, but should a prolapse develop it is key to have it assessed and have a management plan developed as early as possible. Seeing your health care provider and a Physiotherapist with an interest in Women’s Health will assist you on your journey to returning to optimal health!
If you have any questions or concerns regading your own pelvic health, or someone you know, please call us at one of our three Back In Motion locations on the Gold Coast!
Back In Motion Burleigh Waters - 1/6-8 Classic Way, Burleigh Waters - 07 5613 3115, Naomi Blissett - Physiotherapist and Women's Health professional
Back In Motion Mudgeeraba - 63 Railway Street, Mudgeeraba - 07 5530 4956, Ellie Horn - Physiotherapist and Women's Health professional
Back In Motion Bundall - 1 Allawah Drive, Bundall - 07 5592 4141, Erin Gander - Physiotherapist and Women's Health professional
Written by Erin Gander, Physiotherapist and Women's Health Professional at Back In Motion Bundall
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