Hi friends! Did you know that pelvic organ prolapse (POP) affects one in every five women—that’s millions world wide (Nygaard, 2008). This week we are going to talk about eight tips to help improve the symptoms of POP.
It’s important to remember that while we are physical therapists, we are not your physical therapists. This information is only intended to be educational and does not replace evaluation by a licensed healthcare provider.
#1 Internal Supports
In POP, one of the pelvic organs collapse into the vaginal wall and the wall therefore starts to collapse into the vaginal canal. Internal supports are a great option to help prevent the vaginal wall from collapsing. There are many options but some include pessaries, menstrual cups, Poise Impressa, and tampons.
#2 Seated Cardio Exercise
Some forms of exercise, like running and jumping, can be challenging for the pelvic floor. These activities cause the pelvic floor to work harder to provide support to the pelvic organs. Bike riding can be a great alternative exercise to allow you to get exercise without increasing your symptoms. Please note, not all exercise is bad and not everyone with prolapse will have symptoms with things like running or jumping. Seeing a pelvic therapist is a great way to help get back to doing what you love without increasing POP symptoms.
Lying down with your hips elevated can be a great way to alleviate pain or pressure, especially at the end of the day. While we can’t live our lives lying down, especially with the hips lifted, it can be a great technique to alleviate symptoms. This position uses gravity to help pull the pelvic organs back out of the vaginal wall and canal and it takes pressure of the of the pelvic floor muscles.
#4 Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
Pelvic floor muscle training helps to build strength, tone, and bulk in the pelvic floor muscles and lift the position of the bladder and rectum.
#5 Soft, Squishy Poop
Poop that is the consistency of a ripe banana will be easier to pass and therefore help you to avoid straining. This is important because straining on the toilet can make POP symptoms worse. The way you sit on the toilet can make it easier (or harder) to poop. Using a squatty potty with your knees apart puts your body in the best position to let poop out. Try blowing or saying noises like “shhhh” or “grrr” to help relax you pelvic floor to allow poop to slide out without straining.
#6 Hip, Core, and Glute Strengthening
Hip strength is critical to stopping urinary incontinence because of the way it works with the pelvic floor muscles. Being strong all around—the pelvic floor and this hips/glutes—will help you to move better and manage POP symptoms.
#7 External Support
External supports, like the V2 Supporter, work similarly to internal supports but they are garments that are worn on the outside of the pelvic floor. These often provide great compression and help to alleviate POP symptoms and allow you to be more active.
#8 Exhale When Lifting
Breathing out while lifting can help to cue the pelvic floor muscles to engage to support the pelvic organs. A pelvic floor therapist is a great resource to learn more about breathing to help manage POP symptoms specific to your individual needs.
To learn more about your pelvic floor, check out these great resources:
Pelvic PT Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles with Dr. Samantha Richter, PT, DPT, WCS
Evidence Based Use of Vaginal Weights in Pelvic Rehabilitation with Dr. Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
The Hip and Urinary Incontinence: A look beyond the pelvic floor at what keeps us dry with Lauren Trosch, PT, DPT, OCS
Nygaard, I., et al. (2008). Prevalence of Symptomatic Pelvic Floor Disorders in U.S. Women. JAMA; 300(11): 1311–1316.