May is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month, and there is A LOT of awareness that still needs to be spread about pelvic pain.
About 50% of women will experience pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in their lifetime. Commonly we think of POP only occurring in women who are pregnant or postpartum. However, prolapse can be also be a result of chronic straining, chronic coughing, menopausal or hormonal changes, and obesity. The pelvic floor muscles are (usually) weak or uncoordinated and the supportive endo-pelvic connective tissues (fascia, ligaments, etc) become lax. Without proper support, any of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowels, intestines) start to fall into the vaginal wall and can even bulge out from the vagina. THIS IS NOT NORMAL DURING ANY STAGE OF LIFE.
Most women complain of a bulging, heavy, or pressure sensation in their vagina, which often gets worse after increased activity or being on their feet. Some even see a bulge. Some have difficulty peeing or pooping, and commonly are turned off from sexual activity. Some have urinary or fecal incontinence (which is also not normal regardless of your “diagnosis”).
Because we don’t have enough awareness and saying things like vagina is still stigmatized, MOST of these women don’t know how to bring it up with their doctor or friends, and struggle to find help. There are many ways to address POP, conservatively or surgically. If you experience any of the symptoms of POP (or know a friend), I highly suggest you find a pelvic floor physical therapist near you to get an assessment and learn about your pelvic floor, how to strengthen it, ways to improve your bowel and bladder habits, which activities are optimal for you, and other options like a pessary or hormone replacement therapy. A pelvic floor PT can help you work with the right doctor for these things too. Many of these strategies can be even be addressed via virtual appointments, contact us at Physical Therapy Edge to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to see if we are the right fit for you.
For a little relief right now, counter-poses like the ones pictured below take advantage of gravity to reduce the descent of POP into the vaginal wall. Try 3-5 minutes in any (or a mix) of these positions throughout the day, and especially after being on your feet a while.
supported bridge pose
legs up the wall pose
quadruped on forearms
quadruped over a physioball
While these poses will quickly help with symptom relief, they usually do not “fix” POP without other interventions such as pelvic floor physical therapy, lifestyle and activity modifications, and pessaries. There is a solution, and there is hope. Reach out today for a full assessment and guidance in a path to recovery.
~Courtney, PT Edge