Pelvic organ prolapse…probably one of the most feared diagnoses out there. If you haven’t experienced pelvic organ prolapse or POP, you probably haven’t ever heard of it.
Overwhelmingly, the many patients we see with POP say “No one told me this can happen to me”, and believe us, many individuals experience pelvic organ prolapse. You are not alone in this.
Lack of education and good information about prolapse drives so much fear, isolation, and uncertainty when it comes to managing prolapse.
What even is pelvic organ prolapse?
If you haven’t followed us on instagram, please check us out @hudsonvalleypelvicPT. We did a quick run through of prolapse last week. Here are two simple screen grabs from that post.
PC: my pelvic floor muscles
The organs of the pelvis get their support from ligaments, connective tissue, and the pelvic floor muscles. The support system forms a hammock that creates the floor of the pelvis…hence pelvic “floor”.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more of the organs of the pelvis begins to descend downward. Generally, this happens due to lack of support below and too much pressure above.
Let’s do some myth-busting
Do a quick google search of prolapse and you’ll find web MD, blogs and a whole slew of information. Lots of information….good and …bad.
Here are five prolapse myths floating around out there
1. Prolapse only happens to people who’ve had babies
Yes, many individuals who carry a baby and give birth experience POP, but a variety of factors can contribute to development of a prolapse.
These factors include but are not limited to:
-vaginal OR cesarean birth
-chronic constipation and straining
– very heavy lifting
-connective tissue disorders/ hypermobility
Anyone, even children, men, teenagers etc. may develop prolapse
2. Prolapse only happens to the uterus
Uterine prolapse is one type of prolapse. Go back to myth #1 and all genders may experience prolapse…and all individuals don’t have uteruses.
The following types of prolapse can occur:
- Uterine prolapse- descent of the uterus in the vaginal canal
- Cystocele- bladder prolapse, the bladder tilts backward and puts pressure on the vaginal wall
- Rectocele- the rectum tilts forward and puts pressure of the vaginal wall
- Vaginal vault- this prolapse occurs post hysterectomy when the vagina and sometimes cervix depending on the surgery begin to descend
- Rectal prolapse- the rectum descends downward toward the anus
- Urethrocele- the urethra lacks support and descends into the vagina
- Enterocele- the small intestine pouches downward into a little space between the pelvic organs (much harder to detect)
3. Surgery is the only answer
Surgery is only one option out there for prolapse. Other options include pelvic floor therapy which encompasses pressure management, better mobility and strength in supporting muscle groups, lifestyle management changes, and pelvic floor strengthening all tailored to your goals.
Your physician or physical therapist may refer you to a specialist for a pessary fitting. A pessary is a special device that can be inserted vaginally to provide support for the organs.
Pessaries come in many shapes and sizes. In the United States, urogynecologists and some GYNs perform pessary fittings. In other countries, your physiotherapist can fit you for a pessary.
4. You have to see a bulge to have a prolapse
There are different levels of descent with prolapse. In some cases, you may have a lot of prolapse symptoms but will not see a bulge coming out of the vagina or anus. Your symptoms are very real.
Symptoms of prolapse include (but not limited to):
– Heaviness and pressure in the pelvis
– low back ache
– difficulty fully emptying bowels or bladder
– urine stream that stops and starts
– feeling like organs are falling out
– pain with sexual activity
Also, keep in mind that if you’re looking for a visible bulge while lying on your back, you may not see one simply because gravity and time during the day often will influence prolapse.
5. You can’t pick up your baby
This can be extrapolated to so many things on the CAN’T list. You can absolutely pick up your kids, chase after them, have a fulfilling sex life, run, jump…really do anything with prolapse and be symptom free.
To clarify, prolapse doesn’t magically disappear, but you can live symptom free and meet your goals.
But it’s tough to do all by yourself.
Seek out the help of a professional. Consider an evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist. We see this all the time and have helped so so many individuals get back to living a life without the limitations of their prolapse.
Limited by time? No PTs in your area?
Another amazing option is this pelvic organ prolapse master class to get you started. It’s affordable and includes a ton of information to get you started.
Bonus if you sign up before February 14th.
Check it out here: https://mypfm.mykajabi.com/offers/5CvpRkTi/checkout
Whatever you chose to do, best of luck on your journey. You got this.