Pelvic organ prolapse: Breaking the silence
As a pelvic health physical therapist at Colorado in Motion, I hear stories weekly of women who feel isolated, sad, weird, dirty, unattractive, unhappy (the list goes on) because they know that something “down there” is just not right. They are not able to run, jump, play with their children, lift, walk, stand for long periods of time because they feel a bulge in their pelvic floor that can be painful and is uncomfortable. Often when they see their doctor, they are told that nothing is wrong or worse yet that they need to have surgery to tie up their bladder or a hysterectomy to remove a uterus that has “fallen”. Imagine how surprising this would be to someone who has no idea that something besides a baby can come out or your vagina! It’s time to break the silence and discuss this very common yet ignored epidemic…. pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
POP occurs when a pelvic organ or organs bulge into the vaginal canal. This can be due to weakened or strained ligaments, muscles, or fascia of the pelvis. Much like a sprained ankle, these structures in the pelvis can become loose and lead to POP. Prolapse can occur in different areas of the vagina: the bladder can bulge against the front of the vaginal canal (front or anterior prolapse), the uterus can drop into the vaginal canal (middle or top prolapse), and the rectum can bulge against the back of the vaginal canal (back or posterior prolapse).
Though half of women who’ve delivered a child and half of women over 50 experience pelvic organ prolapse, it remains something rarely discussed except with a woman’s closest friend or physician. As a pelvic health PT and one who knows firsthand how this feels, I am passionate about breaking the silence and the stigma that comes with the diagnosis of POP.
Does your body experience any of the following?
- Feeling or seeing something “fall out” of your vagina
- A bulging sensation in your vagina, especially with physical activity or bowel movements
- A sensation of pelvic heaviness or low sacral backache associated with bulge or falling out feeling
- Dribbling urine when standing up from the toilet
- Needing to manually apply pressure to the perineum or vagina to fully empty the bowel or bladder
If you identify with any of these statements, you may have pelvic organ prolapse. Don’t worry……seek help and talk about it!! You are not alone. There are many ways of treating POP that do not involve surgery or medication, including pelvic health physical therapy. Please call Colorado In Motion at 970-221-1201 and ask to speak with Beth if you would like more information about how we can help.
Dr. Beth Dessner is a physical therapist at Colorado In Motion