What are the symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Women with pelvic organ prolapse usually describe a feeling of a ‘bulge’ or something sitting inside the vagina. They may also describe a feeling something has ‘dropped’ or an awareness of a lump inside the vagina.
It is not normally painful, just a feeling of discomfort or awareness of something not feeling quite right.
This may be a constant feeling or may come and go, particularly at the end of the day, when they are tired or if they have been on their feet all day.
Some women may also report some bladder symptoms (such as urgency, frequency or a change in urine flow) or bowel symptoms (such as difficulty emptying the bowel).
Some women will have no symptoms at all.
How is a Pelvic Organ Prolapse diagnosed?
A prolapse is diagnosed with a vaginal examination by a doctor, gynaecologist or pelvic floor physio.
They will usually use a clean gloved finger and ask you to cough or strain so that they can feel for any descent or laxity in the vaginal tissues. This can be done in lying and sometimes in standing (when the prolapse may be more evident).
A gynaecologist will usually use a speculum to do assess this.
Can a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist help treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
A pelvic floor physio has completed specialised training to help with this condition. They can
- Provide a comprehensive assessment including your general health, bladder and bowel health as well as obstetric and gynaecology history
- Screen for any risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction
- Provide a vaginal examination to assess the pelvic floor including prolapse
- Teach pelvic floor muscle exercise- specific guidance and progression
- Manage any avoidable factors such as constipation and strainin0g
- Provide bladder and bowel advice to reduce symptoms
- Graduated exercise program to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Are there any exercises that a new mum should avoid to help prevent prolapse?
Regardless of if you have had a vaginal or caesarian delivery, ALL mums have some degree of pelvic floor (and abdominal) weakness. Therefore, exercise need to introduced gradually.
- Avoid any exercise which causes symptoms as this is a sign of pelvic floor weakness. This includes symptoms of leakage, abdominal bulging or vaginal pressure.
- Sit ups, planking and heavy lifting all place increased load on the pelvic floor, therefore it is best to avoid these at first.
- Running should be avoided for at least 3 months. It is best to have a pelvic floor check at this time, prior to starting back at running.
- With pelvic floor strengthening, these exercises can be safely and gradually introduced.