50% of women will have, at some point of their life, some signs or symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
But what is it?
A prolapse is the lowering of one or several organs
There are 3 main types of POP:
- Bladder prolapse (cystocele),
- Uterine prolapse,
- Rectal prolapse (rectocele).
These organs push down and lean into the vagina. There are 4 grades of prolapse used to categorise the physical severity of your prolapse.
POP is due to a weakness of connective tissue, ligaments and/or the pelvic floor muscles. Difficulty managing the pressure in the tummy area such as during pregnancy and delivery, obesity, chronic cough, chronic constipation, weight lifting, certain postures or activities can aggravate your symptoms.
Symptoms are varied but many women report:
- Sensation of heaviness or pressure into the pelvic area. Some describe it like a tampon stuck.
- Sensation of something coming out of the vagina, sometimes can feel it when wiping
- Urinary symptoms – incontinence, urgency, post void dribble
- Bowel symptoms – constipation, difficulty to evacuate
- Painful intercourse
Prolapse symptoms can be improved with pelvic health physiotherapy to include specific exercises and guidance for progressing fitness routines and managing intra-abdominal pressures as well as onward referral where necessary.
Sometimes, a pessary can be inserted to support the low organs. This is a bit like wear a bra to support our breasts.
In very severe case, surgery is needed. However, you still need to learn how to avoid aggravating factors so the prolapse doesn’t reoccur so we (and the research) suggest that you should see a women’s health physio before any surgery.