The prolapse talk (If you’re a woman, you need to read this!)
Alright friend, it’s time for a “talk”.
Do you know what a prolapse is?
If you don’t, you’re not alone. A lot of women who haven’t had babies yet (and many who have) aren’t sure what it is.
When I describe it to someone who hasn’t heard of it before, I am usually met with a look of sheer panic.
So! Before you read the next paragraph, please know that in most cases, a prolapse is preventable and reversible if caught early enough.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more of your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) shift out of place and starts to push down through one of the openings in the pelvic floor (the area of muscle from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone at the front). For example, your bladder may drop and start to push against the wall of your vagina, causing a bulge in your vagina that if untreated, may start to move downwards and eventually out of your body.
Why am I telling you this?
Because prolapse can be preventable and reversible if caught early enough. Left unaddressed, it can get worse, sometimes to the point of requiring surgery. But, no one talks about it! Instead, 40% to 50% of women will experience a prolapse (and this number may be even higher – like 60% – because many women don’t know they have it or are too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about it). They live with this condition that can sometimes be uncomfortable or even painful, because it is awkward and embarrassing.
I don’t want this to happen to you.
Our pelvic organs may prolapse when the muscles of the pelvic floor are weakened to the point that they can’t support the weight from above.
Childbirth and menopause are the main causes of pelvic organ prolapse, however it can also result from pregnancy in general, chronic coughing, heavy lifting, being overweight, chronic constipation, or even lack of exercise.
What are the signs that you may have a prolapse? A feeling of “heaviness” down below, painful intercourse, poor bladder control, or a tampon won’t stay in place. Or, you may actually notice a bulge.
While some doctors may assess you postpartum for this condition, their assessment may not always be accurate – most doctors use a speculum that can push a prolapse out of the way so they may not notice it. The best way to get assessed for a prolapse is by a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can also work with you one-on-one to correct it.
Suspect a prolapse or just want to prevent one? The first place to start is by checking your posture. How you stand and move throughout your day can play a huge role in how well your pelvic floor and core function to support the stuff in your tummy.
Untuck that bum, relax your glutes, lift your chest but soften your ribcage down and back so it stacks on top of the pelvis. Lift from the crown of your head. Basically, avoid slouching or thrusting the hips forward.
Certain exercises can also help strengthen your pelvic floor to prevent or reverse a prolapse. Kegels, when done properly, can be great (remember – it’s an inward squeeze and an upward lift from tailbone to pubic bone; avoid bracing through the abdomen or squeezing the glutes. The lift should be done on an exhale, and a relaxation or release should happen on an inhale). Exercises such as bridges, heel slides or clamshells can also be effective.
In some cases, the pelvic floor muscles may actually have tension that needs to be released before starting to strengthen. Again, a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you identify if this is the case for you.
You’ll want to avoid high impact activities such as jogging or jumping, wide legged movements, and exercises such as crunches, situps, or leg lifts which amplify pressure downwards on the pelvic floor.
Want to learn more? My Pelvic Floor Fitness Workshop has lots of info, tricks, and exercises that address prolapse. I also offer fitness and yoga classes that are specifically designed with prolapse in mind. You can check them out at this link.
Questions? Please get in touch! I’m happy to help.