Yep. I just said the “V” word.
Because I can, it’s my day job (which is why my husband has stopped asking me how work was!). And, I know you care about your vagina and want it to be strong and healthy.
Remember Jen’s great post about the dangers of the Facebook 30 Day Ab Challenge? (If not, find it here.) Well, one of them is pelvic organ prolapse, and it’s way more common than you think. All kinds of women our age are having prolapse issues that range from mild to severe, some are living with it, others are having surgery to correct it.
I get WAY too many calls from my friends, and friends of friends, and people I don’t even know because they are dealing with prolapse and need help. So I’m going to dish all about it right here. Read it, share it with your friends, start the conversation so we can help save our vaginas!
What is pelvic organ prolapse?
By definition it’s the abnormal descent or herniation of the pelvic organs from their normal attachment sites or their normal position in the pelvis.
In other words, after child birth the connective tissue and muscles of the pelvic floor are too strained and weak to support the organs resting on them. So…
Prolapse = Your bladder, uterus, or rectum falling down into your vagina. And sometimes out of said vagina. Truth.
NOW I bet you’ll rethink that ab challenge!
How does prolapse happen?
There are many factors that contribute to prolapse including genetics, weakness of pelvic floor and deep core muscles, trauma to connective tissue during childbirth (especially with a fast pushing phase), poor body mechanics, posture and movement patterns, and improper deep core activation paired with far too aggressive core exercises.
Get a few of these together and sometimes the body just can’t keep up!
Here are the two most common causes of prolapse I personally see in the clinic:
1. Connective Tissue Trauma: For some moms (I was one of these) the connective tissue of the pelvic floor suffers so much trauma during the delivery that it can’t bounce back to it’s normal tension and can’t do it’s supportive job. It’s possible to have good muscle strength but no connective tissue support, and strength alone is not enough. These tend to happen pretty quickly after delivery, in the early days of postpartum life.
Just days after my second son was born I felt my bladder prolapse while walking across the living room (one of the less pleasant moments in my life!). And my girlfriend called me after feeling a prolapse while just sitting down on a chair. As if labor and delivery weren’t enough! There’s not too much you can do to prevent this type of prolapse.
2. Stressing a Weak Structure: Many moms get back to exercising hard and fast, doing ab exercises that are actually dangerous for postpartum women. And too often without properly retraining their deep core for support. If your deep core is weak and uncoordinated you may be setting yourself up for prolapse in the future. If you’re feeling any kind of pressure in your pelvis with exercises stop now and find yourself a great physical therapist to get on the right track.
The combination of a poorly trained deep core with poorly designed ab exercises is dangerous, and can lead to prolapse. And it’s way too common. You’ve got to walk before you can run, girl!
What can you do to protect yourself?
Don’t participate in any crazy ab challenges. We are designing one now that will be safe and effective.
Go back and read our deep core series of blog posts. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for why it matters. Follow the exercises, making sure you can do each one perfectly before advancing. Give yourself a great foundation for all your future exercise endeavors…you’ll be glad you did!
If you, or someone you know suffers from prolapse consult your physician and a women’s health physical therapist for treatment specially designed for your body.
I often hear that women aren’t really clear about exactly what they can and can’t do. They’ve been given the advice to “rest” (which isn’t so easy for a mom!) but don’t know what that means. These are some guidelines I use to help.
On a happy note, there is life after prolapse! I’ve had great success getting my body back, and have helped many women do the same.
This is a big subject, and I have just scratched the surface. So let me know what questions you have in the comments and I can get more specific as needed.
Many women suffer silently, which really breaks my heart. Let’s change the conversation and get real about what our bodies go through on the journey of motherhood!