Did you know that prolapse is experienced in up to 50% of women? This is a high number that affects women of all ages and stages, not just postpartum women. With a statistic so high, it’s so important to educate women and get the word out.
When it comes to prolapse (or anything pelvic health for that matter), it would be easy to go down a deep rabbit hole here, but I won’t. The purpose of today’s blog is to share some basic information about prolapse: what it is, causes, and treatment options.
What is a Prolapse?
The textbook explanation would be that the pelvic organs start to descend down into the vaginal canal or rectum. The “street talk”, if you will, would be that it typically feels like something is in the vagina, or a heavy sensation.
For me, it felt like something was heavy/falling out of my vagina.
There are several different types of prolapses. A few of the most common are:
- Cystocele- where the bladder shifts downward into the vagina
- Uterine- the uterus shifts into the vagina
- Rectocele- the rectum is pushing into the vaginal wall
The Cause of Prolapse?
There’s not just one factor or contributing cause to a prolapse. It’s usually a multi-faceted situation. And the treatment for a prolapse is certainly not one size fits all. Some common life circumstances that are often associated with a prolapse include: pregnancy, vaginal delivery, hysterectomy, pelvic surgery, chronic constipation.
It’s not necessarily that these circumstances by themselves cause a prolapse. A pregnancy or a hysterectomy procedure alone do not automatically mean a prolapse for an individual.
There are three main factors that contribute to a prolapse, and they are:
- Poor pressure management- when we perform our day to day tasks and activities as well as lifting in the gym- how we execute them matters! Are we bearing down to get the job done?
- Ligament laxity- naturally happens during pregnancy and especially in labor/delivery. Also, women can experience a ligament laxity that is hormonally driven. This is why prolapse is also very common in menopausal women.
- Muscle weakness- if our pelvic floor muscles are weak, they will have a harder time supporting our organs. (Supporting our organs is a big part of the pelvic floor’s job.)
The first thing I would highly recommend is going to see a pelvic floor physical therapist (PFPT). Having someone to assess where you’re at and get an idea of the full picture can help set you in the right direction. My personal experience with PFPT, Aimee Bailee, was addressing my pelvic floor tightness and weakness. We also looked at pressure management.
So let’s talk about STRENGTH TRAINING. After seeing Aimee, my next step was transitioning into strength training. With some basics under my belt, I needed to lift heavy things (to build strength) and most importantly, to learn how to lift heavy things (pressure management) safely.
I’ve had a coach (shout out Kate Johnson) taking care of my programming over the last 9 months and it’s been a game changer. I want to note here that it wasn’t just about my pelvic floor being strong, it was and is about the whole body being strong. Your strength and resiliency are a team effort, not just one muscle group’s job.
There are treatment options such as surgery or a pessary. (Another topic for another time!) I do want to mention however, even if you have surgery, muscle weakness and poor pressure management increases your risk of a failed procedure. So even in the case of surgery, strength training with a skilled professional is still very important to maintain your surgery’s success.
I hope this brief blog post helped you to get some basic information about the subject of prolapse. If you want to dive a little deeper, Sarah Duvall does an excellent job in her blog post.
I’ll be sharing more about my work with a PFPT and my strength training coach in my next blog post. If you have been diagnosed with a prolapse or suspect you have one, the main thing that I hope you take away here is that your body is resilient and so capable of healing, building strength, and doing all the things you love to do. I would be lying if I said it was an easy journey. It’s long, emotionally and physically challenging, and it has highs and lows. But when you start seeing the light in your life, it’s worth it. Stay tuned for more on my journey with prolapse friend!
As always, please contact me if you have questions about this topic. Happy to help!
P.S. If you’ve been working through a prolapse and you’re a local (live in Ashland City or the greater Nashville area), I will soon be offering a limited number of postpartum coaching training spots. You can learn more about that here. You can also sign up to be on my postpartum coaching interest list to get all the update as they are released!
Also, I’ll be hosting a pelvic floor workshop at PowHer Performance next month!