Ladies, this entry is mostly for you this time around. I want to talk about vaginal prolapse. This is what happens when the connective tissue that holds up your bladder, uterus, and/or rectum get stretched out, causing them to collapse into your vaginal wall. The bladder drop is called a cystocele. The rectal drop is called a rectocele. The uterine drop is called uterine prolapse.
Some women have prolapse and absolutely no symptoms. Other women feel a bulge at the vaginal opening. Still other complain of a pelvic heaviness at the end of the day or after a long time on their feet. Some women will have difficulty emptying the bladder or the bowel.
Prolapse can happen due to childbirth, chronic coughing, chronic constipation, repeated heavy lifting, or connective tissue disorders. Pushing during childbirth can (but doesn’t always) lead to prolapse. Those with chronic lung conditions can develop it due to all the intra-abdominal pressure pushing down on the organs with each cough. Straining during bowel movements over a long period of time can also lead to prolapse. Some people get it when they have to do heavy lifting for their jobs or repetitively lift heavy weights for exercise.
There are ways to avoid prolapse or keep it from getting worse. Try Kegeling before you cough or lift something heavy. Engaging the pelvic floor muscles will counteract the downward pressure on your organs. When you have a bowel movement, breathe out if you have to push; by doing so, you dissipate the pressure that would otherwise stress your organs out through your mouth. Also, don’t hold your breath when you exercise; it pushes down on your organs and pelvic floor. While there’s not much you can do during the birth process itself (you’re concerned with other things!) to reduce/prevent prolapse, getting your pelvic floor and organs checked by a pelvic floor PT 6 weeks after birth can help you get diagnosed early so you can work on preventing progression of it over time.
I’m here to help you keep your insides in! Who knew physical therapy could do that?! If you aren’t sure if you have prolapse or if you do and haven’t done anything about it, call us to make an appointment!