Pelvic Organ Prolapse

97% of women are unaware they have pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs due to weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that attach to it. If you can imagine a hammock with good tension in the middle, but over time the tension slackens off and as you lay in the hammock the middle portion loosen the tension and falls further down to the ground, the same can happen with our Pelvic Floor Muscle (PFM).

What organs can prolapse:

The bladder (cyctocele) , uterus, vagina, small bowel (enterocele),  or the rectum (rectocele) can prolapse, or one or more of these organs can prolapse at any one time.

What factors contribute to a prolapse ?

Prolapse generally occurs due to pregnancy, labour and childbirth. However factors such as obesity, previous hysterectomy, constipation – straining a lot when passing bowel motions, respiratory conditions that induce a lot of coughing, pelvic organ cancers, and lifting heavy objects can also cause an organ to prolapse.

What are the signs and symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?

  • Heaviness/ dragging  in the vaginal region/ genitals or stomach
  • Lower back pain
  • A feeling that something is coming down into the vagina
  • Feeling or seeing a lump come down into the vaginal opening, usually women will be able to push these back up again
  • Discomfort or numbness, or urine leakage during sex
  • Stress urine incontinence, faecal incontinence,  a sense of frequency or urgency or not emptying fully.
  • Constipation

What can a Women’s health physiotherapist (WHP) do to help?

Women’s health physiotherapists can assess and ascertain if indeed you have a prolapse and which organ/s is affected. Research shows that pelvic floor muscle training (provided by your WHP) over a 3-5 month period, for 3-5 min / day helps to improve the tension in the vaginal walls, and improve your symptoms overall. Advice on lifestyle changes will also be given and if required a referral to a GP, dietician or Gynaecologist, or one of our Women’s health specialist at PhysioCare.

Blog by Deirdre Roddy

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