Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the organs and connective tissues begin to sag within the pelvic cavity. In some cases, this sagging (prolapsing) is minor and may not cause any problems. In other cases, it contributes to incontinence, painful intercourse, complicated bowel movements or can even cause the uterus to prolapse through the cervix and into the vagina.
Tips For Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)
Risk factors for POP include:
- Genetic factors (if women in your family experience it, you are at higher risk)
- Jobs that require heavy lifting
- Chronic constipation (which requires bearing down)
- Chronic coughing
- Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth (although many women who have never been pregnant or who have had C-sections are still at risk)
- Age (most women with POP are 40-years old or more)
While extreme cases of POP may require surgical treatment, most mild- to moderate-POP can be treated via lifestyle changes, exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, pelvic physical therapy or the use of a pessary – which is inserted into the vagina and keeps prolapsing organs from sagging through the cervix.
You can help to prevent pelvic organ prolapse, or minimize its severity by:
Making necessary lifestyle changes
Do you smoke? Are you overweight? Quitting unhealthy lifestyle habits, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regular can go a long way towards preventing POP and other health issues. Work with your doctor to come up with a sensible plan that baby-steps you into a healthier body and a healthier lifestyle.
Integrating exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor
“Do your Kegels,” is a feminine mantra, but Kegels alone may not be enough to prevent POP. And, some studies show that doing too many Kegels can create tight vaginal muscles without any pelvic muscle benefit, which can wind up causing problems.
The best way to keep pelvic muscles in shape is to integrate exercises that strengthen your core muscles – along with those Kegels. Read, Stop Urinary Incontinence Before it Starts, for ideas and resources regarding pelvic-specific exercises.
If you’ve been diagnosed with POP and are interested in more specific, non-invasive treatments – seek help from a pelvic physical therapist. They can work wonders using a variety of techniques that re-tone and strengthen pelvic muscles and connective tissue.
Address latent health issues
Our busy lifestyles often lead to forgoing important check-ups and/or getting used to the little things that can lead to bigger things. Examples include symptoms like chronic coughs or constipation – both of which contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, and will make mild cases more serious over time.
Don’t put off regular doctor appointments, always be honest with your doctors – even about the “little things” – and do make additional appointments if a cough or long-standing constipation become your norm.
Symptoms that may indicate you’re experiencing POP include:
- Urinary incontinence
- The inability to completely empty your bladder (urine flow stops, and then a little more is left over afterward, indicating a partially prolapsed urethra)
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse/penetration
- A noticeable bulge at the top of your vagina or a feeling of fullness there
- Pelvic discomfort
- Spotting between periods
Are you experiencing any of the above? Schedule an appointment with Overlake so we can find a healthy and sustainable solution.