Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What is it and what can you do about it?

Do you notice an increase in heaviness in your pelvis after being on your feet all day? Do you feel pressure in your vulva? Does your lower back pain get worse the longer you are on your feet, or the more active you are? Do you have something bulging or hanging out of your vagina?

you have any of these symptoms, you may have a pelvic organ prolapse (POP). A POP is when one or some of the pelvic organs fall below their normal positions in the pelvis to the point where they can possibly fall out of the vagina. 

There are various types of prolapses. A uterine prolapse is when the uterus begins to fall into and sometimes out of the vaginal canal. An anterior prolapse, called a cystocele, is a relaxation of the tissue that supports the bladder. This can cause the bladder to fall backwards and lean into the front of the vaginal canal, creating a bulge into the front of the vagina. A rectocele is similar, however involves the relaxation of the tissues holding up and supporting the rectum behind the vagina. 

If you have a POP, you may notice discomfort with intercourse as if your vagina feels shorter or your bladder is being pushed on. In addition, POP can affect and cause changes in your bowel or bladder habits. Some people with a rectocele will need to help themselves fully evacuate their bowels with their fingers. Over time, unchecked and untreated, your POP can get worse. Especially, if you are unwittingly doing things throughout your day that could be worsening the issue. 

Begin to pay attention to your breath. Do you hold your breath during activities that require physical effort? Do you hold your breath when you exercise, bend over, or get up from the bed or out of a car? If so, holding your breath throughout the day will be making your POP worse. It is important to think about how your body moves during any form of physical activity. Instead of holding your breath, gently pull in your lower belly and do a light pelvic floor muscular contraction while exhaling. Your bowel movements can also greatly affect your POP as constipation will make it worse. If you are not having full sausage like poops without straining, you may be constipated and should seek help.

Thankfully, you do not need to just live with these symptoms. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help. Truly, the best thing you can do for yourself is get an evaluation to see a pelvic floor physical therapist. When you decide to take care of yourself and see a pelvic floor physical therapist, you will not only learn exercises to increase the support of your pelvic organs, but how to avoid exacerbating your symptoms. You also will be assessed for a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) as this aggravates your POP when not treated. 

At ITR Physical Therapy, our physical therapists are specifically trained to help women with all types of pelvic floor issues including pelvic organ prolapse. Make your appointment today. You deserve to know how to take care of your pelvis and to feel better!

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Jennifer Chu
Jennifer Chu, MS, PT, WCS is one of the country’s first Board Certified Women’s Health Specialists. She has been a physical therapist since 1997 when she started her career working with musculoskeletal injuries in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. It was here that Jennifer began her specialty in women’s health. In 2001 she opened ITR Physical Therapy in order to create an environment where patients would receive the individualized, quality and manual care that she believes each patient deserves. Jennifer has spoken nationally at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition and has sat on the Board of Directors as the Director of Communication for the APTA’s Section on Women’s Health. She has participated in clinical research regarding myofascial soft tissue release techniques for painful bladder syndrome and painful C section scars. She is committed to teaching and empowering women and men with pelvic floor dysfunctions how to help themselves. When not working, Jennifer treasures being the mother of two amazing girls, practicing yoga, meditation and spending time with her friends and family.