What is pelvic organ prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ—such as your bladder or uterus—drops (prolapses) from its normal place in your lower belly and pushes against the walls of your vagina. This can happen when the muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched.
Many women will have some kind of pelvic organ prolapse. It can be uncomfortable or painful, but is not typically a serious health problem. It doesn’t always get worse, and it has been shown that with work it can get better!
More than one pelvic organ can prolapse at the same time. Organs that can be involved when you have pelvic prolapse include the bladder, rectum, uterus, urethra or small intestine.
A bladder prolapse (cystocele) is most common, and occurs when the tissues that hold the bladder in place are stretched or weakened. This causes the bladder to move from its normal position and press against the front wall of the vagina, forming a bulge.
A uterine prolapse occurs when a woman’s pelvic muscles and ligaments become weak, allowing the uterus to drop from its normal position and the cervix to bulge into the vagina.
A rectocele occurs when the tissues and muscles holding the end of the large intestine (rectum) are stretched or weakened, allowing the rectum to move from its regular position and press against the back wall of the vagina.
There is much that can be done to improve your prolapse!
You will need to work with a physiotherapist who works in pelvic health to make a program of exercises and other healthy habits that is specific to you and your situation and lifestyle.
Some things you can do to help:
- Pelvic floor strengthening exercises (called Kegel exercises) can help to build support at the bottom of your core
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight
- Avoid lifting things that are too heavy for you, as it can put stress on your pelvic muscles
- Caution with higher impact exercise and activity, and possibly switch to lower impact exercise
- Avoid straining with bowel movements, and increase fibre intake
- Try “the Knack”, which is a technique of engaging your pelvic floor muscles just before you cough, sneeze or lift in order to better manage the pressure increase