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Pelvic organ prolapse after childbirth

BY: Catherine Oppong

When you have pelvic organ prolapse, you may feel some pressure or heaviness in the pelvis because of a drop in one or more of the pelvis organs (the bladder, uterus, rectum, etc.).

This may sound scary, but it is manageable. Here’s what you need to know.

Your pelvic organs are supported and held in place by the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues.

The pelvic floor muscles become weak and relaxed during pregnancy and childbirth due to hormonal changes and excessive stretching. This affects the muscle’s ability to hold the organs in place and may eventually result in one or more organs moving down out of their original position towards or into the vagina and, in severe cases, out of the vagina.

Menopause, a natural process which occurs as women age can also predispose women to this condition. Estrogen, a hormone which plays an essential role in the functioning of the pelvic floor, decreases during menopause. This reduces the strength of the structures and tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place, causing them to fall.

Also, conditions such as obesity and chronic cough may cause increased pressure inside the abdomen and can predispose women to pelvic organ prolapse.

What you should look out for
Symptoms will look and feel different from person to person, stage to stage, and may vary based on the type of prolapse they are experiencing. Pelvic organ prolapse may be mild, moderate or severe.

Many women, however, do not seek help until their symptoms worsen.

Look out for the following and seek early intervention

A sensation of heaviness or pulling in your pelvis

Feeling like something is coming down into your vagina – it may feel like sitting on a small ball

Pain or a feeling of pressure on the pelvis or vagina.

Seeing or feeling a lump inside the vagina.

Urinary problems, such as urine leakage (incontinence) or urine retention.

Sexual discomfort or reduced sensation

How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapists play a vital role in the nonsurgical management of pelvic organ prolapse. The treatment is tailored to each individual’s needs depending on the severity and affected organ(s).

Your physiotherapist will help you identify and exercise the pelvic floor muscles to provide more support. This will help reduce the symptoms and prevent further slipping. You will also be given education on lifestyle changes and tips to help you manage your symptoms independently. With patience and consistency, you’ll gradually be able to resume your normal activities without experiencing symptoms.

Talk to a physiotherapist today!