Understanding Pelvic Prolapse: What It Is and Why It Matters
We will cover breast lumps another day, but today we want to discuss lumps and bulges in a different area: prolapse.
Most of us shift a little uncomfortably at the word. But it’s something we need to talk about, and it’s not always something we take a proactive approach to.
Identifying Different Types of Pelvic Prolapse
What is a prolapse? It’s the word we use when some part of our pelvic anatomy shifts downwards, due to a loss of support from pelvic ligaments, the vaginal walls and the pelvic floor muscles.
This can be a rectocele (the lower part of the bowel bulges forwards), a cystocele (the bladder pushes back or down) or descent of the womb and cervix. The level of descent can be mild (still within the vaginal cavity), or more severe (at, or beyond the entrance of the vagina.
Symptoms and Impact of Pelvic Prolapse
Women notice prolapses most when they stand, strain, carry heavy things or go to the bathroom. Sometimes fully emptying the bladder or bowel can become difficult as a result.
They also impact on sex directly, but also through stretching of the nerves, which can impact sensation. The process that led to the prolapse also means weaker orgasm and poorer blood supply to our important pleasure parts. All in all, it’s not ideal 🙃
Proactive Measures and Treatment Options for Pelvic Prolapse
So, what helps? Well – prevention is best, so if you’re scanning through thinking, “That’s not me!” then now is the perfect time for a good pelvic floor regime. Many of the women we see started with issues after pregnancy. See a pelvic physio early, and keep at it. Weights and apps and pelvic floor exercisers all have their place too. Learn to do a pelvic floor contraction well (start at your bottom, and feel like you’re zipping up to your navel). Do a mix of short and long squeezes. Eat plenty of fibre and don’t put up with chronic constipation: always straining is BAD.
Vaginal oestrogens help a lot, too, at menopause. For continence, they can be a game changer. Start early, use plenty. They’re safe and effective.
And consider seeing a pelvic physiotherapist. It can be worth paying privately – this is such an important part of you! And then there are things like pessaries – which have come a long way from the hard plastic rings – and surgery, for some.
Keeping Up with Pelvic Floor Health
How do you remember your pelvic floor exercises?