Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What is It?

Pelvic Organ Prolapse or POP has become a common dysfunction for many women postpartum. However, if you do any kind of research online you’ll probably be pretty discouraged by what you read. You will find all kinds of limits on what you can or can’t do and many articles will tell you that you need to have surgery in order to fix the issue. All of this information is misleading. There are many things that can be done, that don’t include surgery to help with your POP symptoms.

Today, let’s discuss what POP is and how it can affect us. POP is when the tissues and muscles of your pelvic floor get weakened and results in an organ (or multiple) to press into the wall of the vagina or descend out of the vagina. The organs that you’ll typically see descending include the bladder, uterus, small bowel, rectum, and vagina. There are a number of reasons that you could be experiencing a prolapse.

Causes of Prolapse

1. Pregnancy and delivery – your body goes through an incredible amount of changes during pregnancy and lots of stress. Sometimes that stress weakens your pelvic floor muscles to the point that it can’t properly support organs. Delivery can also affect these muscles and be the cause of prolapse symptoms you may be experiencing.

2. Constipation – long-term constipation puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor muscles and organs that it supports. If you often struggle with constipation, this could lead to prolapse.

3. Hysterectomy – if you’ve had a hysterectomy, you could be experiencing a vaginal vault prolapse. The uterus helps to support the vagina and when it is removed, that support is lost and can cause the vagina to start to collapse.

There are other causes for prolapse, but these three are the most common. Now let’s move on to some symptoms of POP. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, it’s possible that you have a prolapse.

Symptoms of Prolapse

1. Feeling of heaviness on the vagina

2. Incontinence

3. Feeling like something is falling out of your vagina

4. A loose feeling in your vagina, particularly during sex

Grading Prolapse

There are different grades or stages depending on the type of prolapse you have (meaning the organ(s) that are prolapsing). But a good scale for determining the severity of your prolapse, is the Baden-Walker Scale, which I’ve provided below.

Your doctor and/or pelvic floor physical therapist will be able to evaluate you to determine the severity of your prolapse.

Having a prolapse does not have to be the end of your life as you know it – there is hope and help! This week, I’ll be talking about exercises you can do that can help improve some of your POP symptoms. Keep an eye out!

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