Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
What is it?
When the pelvic organs (such as bladder, uterus and rectum) drop down into the pelvis. There are 3 types of prolapse:
Cystocele - prolapse of the bladder
Rectocele - prolapse of the rectum
Uterine - prolapse of the uterus
The grade of prolapse ranges from 0-4. Zero is when there is no prolapse and four is when the organ is moving outside of the body.
What are the symptoms?
Feelings of a bulge, heaviness or pressure in the vaginal canal. Sometimes worse at the end of the day or after some physical activity. Sometimes it's a low back pain or pelvic pain or there is urinary, bowel or sexual dysfunction.
And sometimes, there are no symptoms.
What to do?
A pelvic floor physiotherapist can assess and determine the degree of prolapse and they can help. Some women do end up with surgery, but please don't take this as the only option available to you.
I recently had a client who didn’t exercise for years because she was afraid. Afraid it would get worse. We took it slow and found out what worked best for her. There are ways to manage and control symptoms.
Some things to consider:
First of all, how are you sleeping? What is your stress level? Often times, when these things aren't in check, symptoms can be worse.
Vary your body position when you're exercising. Lie on your back. Stand up. Kneel. Change it up. Move your body in lots of different positions.
Check your alignment. Make sure your bum is not tucked in and your ribs aren't flared up. Try to have your ribs over your hips.
Check your breathing! Exhale on exertion. Inhale and relax your pelvic floor. Once you're about to start the hardest part of the exercise, start your exhale and lift your pelvic floor.
But if that breathing strategy doesn't feel great, then try something different. It's definitely something that is not a cookie cutter for everyone and every exercise. Find out what works for YOU.
Change it up:
You may need to change up some of the exercises you did prior to your prolapse. You will need to tune into what each exercise does for your symptoms.
You might need to stay away from some certain exercises such as wide leg exercises, 'traditional ab' exercises such as sit-ups and leg lowers (if you do not know hot to manage the intra-abdominal pressure); weighted exercises that put pressure on the pelvic floor (overhead press, lat pulldown), and high impact exercises.
This doesn't mean you need to stay away from them FOREVER! You need to change the strategy with that movement. You need to make sure you can effectively manage your breathing and your alignment during your daily activities and your workouts, and then you may be able to incorporate some of your former favourite activities.
Prolapse does not mean you have to STOP everything.
Be sure to search out some help and don't be to afraid to give some things a try.
You are not broken. There is hope in getting back to doing what you love.