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Pelvic organ prolapse (POP)

Background

A pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when a pelvic organ, such as your bladder, drops (“prolapses”) from its normal position and pushes against the walls of your vagina. This can happen if the muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched from childbirth or surgery.

More than one pelvic organ can drop at the same time. Organs that can be involved in a pelvic organ prolapse include the bladder, the uterus, the bowel and the rectum. Pelvic organ prolapse can cause pain or problems with bowel and bladder functions or interfere with sexual activity.

Bladder Prolapse

Is the most common:

  • Bulge is in the front wall of the vagina
  • +/- urinary Incontinence
  • Often difficulty retaining tampons
  • May not fully empty bladder and have to return ‘5 minutes’ later
  • Often is non-painful

Uterine Prolapse

  • Uterus may descend down or out of the vagina
  • May appear soon after child-birth
  • Increased occurrence in post-menopausal women over 50’s

Rectal Prolapse

  • May affect elimination of bowels
  • Bulge is in back wall of vagina

Prevention

Regular health checks (such as cervical smears) help you understand your body and how it works, if something has changed or doesn't feel quite right. Ask your smear-taker to check to see if you are able to do a good pelvic floor muscle contraction, and check if you have any signs of a prolapse.

Early symptoms of POP may include dragging pain or heaviness of the pelvic floor muscles and lower back pain, especially mid cycle. You may notice changes to your bladder or bowel habits, and/or a bulge may be felt or be able to be seen at the entrance to your vagina.

High Risk Groups

If there is prolapse among family members, you are in a higher risk group for having a genetic link to prolapse therefore you should seek advice early. If you think you may have a prolapse of your pelvic organs, it is important to have a medical check for this and monitor what happens over time.

With any POP, it is important to take on board other helpful lifestyle measures such as:

  • managing obesity
  • stopping smoking
  • ensuring you are doing pelvic floor friendly exercise
  • correct lifting and postural advice
  • managing chronic coughing 
  • maintaining general health and level of fitness / core strenghtening

 


Q: I have a rectocele prolapse and my GP has advised a 'wait and see' approach. I have no bladder weakness. Would SmartBalls be beneficial to me? I have also noticed that my cervix seems very low (compared with pre-children), so there's not loads of space for balls.

A: As you may know, a rectocele occurs if the lower pelvic muscles become damaged by labour, childbirth, pelvic surgery and/or weakened muscles over time. The end of the large intestine (rectum) pushes against and moves the back wall of the vagina.

I would recommend NatraTone as we have found it the most effective muscle strengthening device for women who have had a prolapse or similar event. The NatraTone helps improve bio-sensory feedback, retraining your brain to recognise and correctly engage the pelvic floor muscles which childbirth and trauma can often make difficult. 

The more support you can provide to the core muscles in your pelvic region, the better the long term outcomes will be for you. I would recommend following the NatraTone training plan for longer than the minimum 6 weeks recommended ie for a minimum of 12-16 weeks.

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