Feeling the Pressure? It could be Prolapse.

Have you experienced a feeling of “heaviness” on your pelvic floor or a sensation of your lady parts falling out?  It is common for women to report this pressure sensation to varying degrees, especially after having a baby or as they approach menopause.

Most of the time, women experience this pressure with increased activity such as prolonged standing or walking, exercise, or stairs.  It can even occur with coughing and sneezing as well. These sensations could indicate a pelvic organ prolapse, but don’t worry! There is a lot you can do to help minimize this!

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Prolapse is when “one or more of the pelvic organs to drop or press into or out of the vagina” (womenshealth.org). There are different types of prolapse, depending on the pelvic organ that's affected:

  • Bladder (also called a cystocele)
  • Uterine (pictured below)
  • Rectal (also called a rectocele)

Most commonly prolapse occurs because the abdominal organs do not have enough support from the pelvic floor system.

Uterine Prolapse

Am I at Risk for Prolapse?

Risk factors for prolapse most commonly include:

  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Prolonged time spent pushing for childbirth
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic obstructive airway diseases
  • Menopause or hormonal imbalances

Symptoms of Prolapse

Many people report that the symptoms experienced with prolapse are worse later in the day, due to the effect of gravity in upright positions. Prolapse symptoms may improve once lying down. Any type of straining (such as with a bowel movement or heavy lifting) may also cause the symptoms of prolapse.

Symptoms of prolapse include:

  • Vaginal bulging
  • Pelvic pressure or the feeling of a “lump” in the pelvic area
  • Low back discomfort
  • Incomplete emptying (bowel or bladder)
  • Position changes required to finish emptying (bowel or bladder)
  • Painful intercourse

Don’t Freak Out!

In physical therapy, the goal is to improve the symptoms of the prolapse. Likely with conservative treatment the prolapse will not change greatly in terms of severity, but the symptoms associated with the prolapse can be resolved.  Prolapse can sound scary, but the good news is that with a mild prolapse the symptoms of prolapse can greatly improve.

Physical therapy can help you modify how you perform daily activities to help decrease the risk of the prolapse getting worse. The treatment may involve strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to increase the support of the organs in this area, but before starting these exercises you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist first.

A pelvic floor physical therapist can determine what is causing the symptoms of your prolapse and the proper way of treating it.  They are also trained in how to help you decrease the pressure on the prolapse, which can make the severity of it worse.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or would like more information about prolapse give us a call at Revitalize Physical Therapy at: 414-708-8066 or email us at: contact@revitalize-pt.com.

References:
https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/pelvic-organ-prolapse
Herman & Wallace: Pelvic Floor Level 1 Course

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