Pelvic Organ Prolapse – What Is it?
Working with mid-life and post natal women I have to deal with POP regularly. It’s very common, but women are often embarrassed to talk about it.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when 1 or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina due to the surrounding musculature weakening.
It can be the womb (uterus), bowel, bladder or top of the vagina.
A prolapse is not life threatening, but it can cause pain and discomfort.
Symptoms can usually be improved with pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes, but sometimes medical treatment is needed.
How do I know I have a Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse symptoms include:
- a feeling of heaviness around your lower tummy and genitals
- a dragging discomfort inside your vagina
- feeling like there’s something coming down into your vagina – it may feel like sitting on a small ball
- feeling or seeing a bulge or lump in or coming out of your vagina
- discomfort or numbness during sex
- problems peeing – such as feeling like your bladder is not emptying fully, needing to go to the toilet more often, or leaking a small amount of pee when you cough, sneeze or exercise
What causes a POP?
- The most common causes are vaginal childbirth where the muscles have been stretched and weakened – especially if you had a long or difficult labour. Each birth can increase the risk of POP.
- Long term downward pressure on your abdomen from things like obesity, constant coughing or constipation (the downward pressure from straining on the loo)
- Ageing – as women hit menopause the muscles and supporting structures can become lax and weakened.
What Exercises to do with a POP?
I always find that exercising with a Swiss Ball is popular with my POP ladies, I think it gives a great bio feedback for them, and it is also very supportive.
I have created this video to give you some suggestions of exercises that you CAN do with a prolapse. Obviously, there will be days when you feel better than others, so make sure that you’re always listening to you body.
For these exercises you will need a Swiss Ball and a resistance band.
What Exercises to Avoid?
You should be avoiding any exercises that increase the pressure on the abdomen, here’s some things you should not be doing;
- Crunches or anything lifting your head off the floor in the traditional Pilates method
- Heavy lifting
- Long distance running
Remember posture, alignment and breath are all extremely important when exercising with a prolapse, ensure that you are always paying attention to these.