Don’t POP … Pelvic Organ Prolapse Month!

It is nearly the end of June, which is POP awareness month.

Not too late to discuss, learn, prevent or fix.

It is estimated that 1 in 2 women experience some form of POP in their lifetime!  So please … read on!

WHAT IS POP?

The pelvic organs include your bladder, uterus (womb) and rectum (back passage). They are held in place by structures including: fascia, ligaments and pelvic floor muscles. When these structures are torn, stretched or weakened (even slightly) the pelvic organs may drop down into the vagina which is called a ‘prolapse’. So, the…

Pelvic

Organs

Prolapse.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF POP?

  • A heavy or dragging sensation in the vagina
  • Feeling or seeing a lump in the vagina, that you, your partner or GP may notice
  • Recurrent UTI’s
  • Difficulty emptying bowel or bladder, or a weaker stream
  • Pain or changed sensations during sex

Normally, these signs tend to be worse at the end of the day, due to standing up .. the effects of gravity and so on…

Any of these signs above deserve a discussion with one of us at Core, a GP or women’s health physio as soon as possible.

WHY DO WE POP?

Tearing, stretching or weakening of the structures mentioned above can occur during …

  • Childbirth – (this is the most common cause of POP)
  • Chronic coughing (due to asthma, a severe cold or smoker’s cough)
  • Heavy lifting (from weightlifting or even from heavy children, prams or shopping bags!)
  • Constipation (chronic bearing down and straining on the loo)

Prevention is better than cure!

Like oh so many things… But it is never too late to start.

Having a strong pelvic floor through guided exercises initially (this is where we come in), and then keeping up with a regular pelvic floor muscle home exercise program is essential. Starting out with the right education and advice is key to ensure you are doing them properly.

POP CAN BE HELPED!

While there are surgical approaches to assist with a POP you can also manage and reduce the symptoms with:

  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Safe exercise, guided by one of us at Core, or using pilates equipment as we can avoid gravity to strengthen the muscles gradually.
  • Wearing supporting clothing like the SRC shorts or leggings we sell at Core during and post pregnancy can help you to exercise more safely and gradually strengthen your pelvic floor.
  • Lifestyle changes like increased fluid intake (to reduce constipation), weight loss if necessary to be in the healthy weight range, reducing heavy lifting or improving lifting techniques
  • The use of a ‘pessary’ which is a small plastic or rubber device that goes in your vagina to act like a ‘bra’ for your pelvic organs

If in doubt about POP talk to your physio at Core, your GP, a women’s health physio or call the Continence Foundation of Australia free helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

Written by Lauren Charlton
Physiotherapist

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