There is a taboo topic that women are fearful of discussing but should be discussing…something that everyone likes to ignore because it can be embarrassing and a little awkward. The reason we should be discussing prolapse is that 50% of women over the age of 50 that have had a vaginal birth will experience this issue! But it doesn’t just effect women over 50. And there is something we can do about it!
Prolapse of the pelvic organs; commonly known among health professionals as “POP”.
It will affect many women throughout the lifespan and in fact one in four women are currently experiencing one or more prolapse symptoms. These symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness in the vagina, difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel properly, a sense of a lump or bulge in the vagina. What is a prolapse anyway? How does it happen and what are the symptoms? But more importantly how can I prevent it and what can be done for it?
POP means a weakening of the vaginal walls allowing the organs that sit adjacent (bladder, cervix or rectum) to sit lower in the pelvis allowing them to be felt more in the vaginal walls. This issue commonly occurs after a difficult vaginal birth, particularly those involving forceps. It can also occur from long term (years) of straining on the toilet to pass a bowel movement.
POP is commonly the reason that we see women give up sport. The impact of running, jumping, skipping, lifting heavy weights is that is can worsen the symptoms and severity of a prolapse.
The great news is that pelvic floor physiotherapy can help prevent and treat prolapse! We can identify women that are at higher risk to help them understand prevention. We can treat those that are already dealing with prolapse with exercises, lifestyle advice and now a new service at Clifton Hill Physiotherapy – a support pessary.
Issy is credentialed and trained to fit silicone pessaries. This is a product that can allow women to get back to activities which were previously too symptom- provoking or causing concern about worsening their prolapse.
So what is a pessary?
Well it certainly isn’t a new invention although they have come a long way in the past 10 years. They are a soft, silicone device of various shapes; often a ring or a cube which is inserted into the vagina to help support the vaginal walls. Think of it like scaffolding to help support a building. It can be used for sport, lifting toddlers, or every day. When fitted correctly they are completely comfortable and there should be no way of knowing it is even there.
A pessary can be completely transformative. We have fitted them in women who are now back into their running, basketball, cross-fit or general life activities without the worry of making their POP worse. In fact in some women it can actually improve the POP.
If you’re interested in discussing prolapse or a pessary come in and see one of the lovely physiotherapists in the Women’s health team who can help guide you through the process.
B Physio Grad Cert Continence and Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation