Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Real Talk and Real Tips
Whenever someone comes to us for pelvic organ prolapse, one of the most common traits they appear to have is fear. Whether being told by a physician that they have it or by finding out from Dr. Google, many people are left more with a sense of fear of making it worse or never being able to get rid of it than with solutions. Therefore, we want to provide you with some information that will help you understand what you can do if you suspect or find out you have a prolapse.
First off...what is pelvic organ prolapse?
This is when your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) start to lower down further than they should due to lack of support by ligaments and your pelvic floor. This can happen to many people but often occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, as well as during menopause. This usually feels like pressure or heaviness in your pelvic area.
Now...it sounds a lot scarier than it is. Most people are able to keep doing all the things they want to do! However, there are varying degrees and some may experience more symptoms than others or need a bit more guidance on what to do. So if you are looking for some guidance? You have come to the right place. Next, let's talk about a few things that can be helpful in navigating your pelvic organ prolapse.
Proper potty habits:
One of the first tips I suggest is making sure you can fully empty while going to the bathroom. Straining when taking a bowel movement can increase pressure on your pelvic floor and organs and can possibly exacerbate the issue. Taking your time, using a squatty potty (or putting something underneath your feet to raise them up into more of a squatting position) and exhaling when pushing rather than holding in your breath will not only be a more effective way to empty your bowels, but will also put less pressure on your pelvic floor.. If having trouble urinating, try doing some diaphragmatic breathing and focus on relaxing the pelvic muscles rather than “power peeing” (holding in your breath while trying to forcefully push our urine faster).
What kinds of exercises are helpful for the pelvic floor?
Can kegels (aka pelvic floor contractions) be helpful? Sure! Strengthening your pelvic floor is certainly one thing that can help improve the support of your prolapse.
However, if you are having trouble with a pelvic floor contraction (whether due to weakness or having difficulty feeling whether or not you are doing it), try it with gravity working with you (pelvis above head) to help decrease downward movement of prolapse and bring the prolapse “up.”
Then eventually, let's make it functional, and work on going against gravity. Many feel more symptoms in standing, walking, or squatting, due to gravity bringing the prolapse lower. So let's work on strengthening the pelvic floor in those positions! See below videos for exercise progressions:
Lifting is okay!
A very important topic to discuss when it comes to prolapse is lifting. A lot of people are told that they should avoid lifting if they have pelvic organ prolapse because it will make your prolapse worse. However, do you know what I think will make your prolapse worse? Being told you can’t lift because it will make your prolapse worse. Not only can lifting be totally fine, but it can actually help! Some may benefit from some guidance on how to lift more effectively, but at the end of the day, the constant worry about your prolapse and all the things you can’t do, end up creating more symptoms. So if you like to lift, or need to lift your children for everyday activities, don’t stop lifting! Always recommended to consult with a pelvic PT for more guidance on what is the best way to lift for you. However if you are feeling good, then continue to go about your life! You’re doing great!
There is always so much more that can be talked about when it comes to prolapse. Everybody’s body is different as well as their day to day demands. Some may go about their lives with virtually no symptoms at all, some may have to do a bit more work to get back to all the activities they want to do. Some will benefit more from strengthening their pelvic floor, some may not need to strengthen their pelvic floor and need to focus more on relaxing and lengthening the muscles. Some also may benefit more from using a pessary, or device that can help decrease the pelvic organs from lowering, either with certain activities or overall, rather than just exercises. However, at the very least, this blog should help give you more information, solutions, and confidence that you can live a very happy, healthy, and active life even with pelvic organ prolapse!