What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Pelvic Organ Prolapse is another common condition in women  but like incontinence it is not normal!

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse? (POP) is when the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel and sexual organs ) are no longer supported by the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue of the pelvic floor ( the muscles at the base of your core) and they begin to sag into the vaginal canal.  The  pelvic floor helps to support the organs, maintain bladder and bowel control support the spine and pelvic and has an influence on  sexual sensations.

There are different types of prolapse and different grades depending on which organs or multiple organs and how far they have descended. An assessment is essential to determine possible causes as well as the stage and type of prolapse.

POP is described by those affected as a dragging or heavy feeling in the pelvic floor. Some may feel a bulge near the vaginal opening or a protrusion that may or may not cause downward pressure in the rectum or vagina. Symptoms can vary greatly from one woman to the next, some may have little to no symptoms where others may notice changes such as intercourse becomes painful, a difficulty starting a stream of urine, or the inability to keep a tampon in.  Back pain can also be the symptoms of an undiagnosed prolapse.

The images below describe the varying  prolapses that can occur.

POP Image

Please refer to the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Questionnaire

If you answer yes to 3 or more of the risk factor questions you could be at risk for POP.  It would be a great idea to get assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist. ( I recommend this to all women, as an annual checkup because most doctors do not check or know how to check for prolapse or pelvic floor tone or lack thereof). The goal of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist is to aid in the prevention of surgery

If you believe that you may have a prolapse you should be evaluated by a gynecologist or pelvic floor Physiotherapist. They will be able to determine whether you have a prolapse and what grade that prolapse currently is. There are varying grading systems to determining the grade of a POP, so make sure you ask lots of questions when visiting your pelvic floor specialist so you have an understanding of what system they use and what this means for you and your prolapse.

This is one common grading system that is used.

BADEN-WALKER SYSTEM PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE–QUANTIFICATION SYSTEM
GRADE DESCRIPTION STAGE DESCRIPTION
0 Normal position for each respective site, no prolapse 0 No prolapse
1 Descent halfway to the hymen I > 1 cm above the hymen
2 Descent to the hymen II ≤ 1 cm proximal or distal to the plane of the hymen
3 Descent halfway past the hymen III > 1 cm below the plane of the hymen, but protrudes no farther than 2 cm less than the total vaginal length
4 Maximal possible descent for each site IV Eversion of the lower genital tract is complete

Often a grade of 1-2 can be reversed with the Hypopressive exercise Method, and symptoms can be relieved in a grade 3 (there are some new moms who have recovered from a grade 3 if caught early enough)

One of the reasons that it’s important to attempt to prevent and treat POP is that once a prolapse reaches grade 3-4, where the respective organ is outside of the body, exercise may not be enough and surgery may be required.  After surgery it is equally as important to maintain and prevent other prolapses from occurring.

There is much more than just the physical symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse. It can also take a huge emotional toll on those living with this dysfunction.

My Personal Story helps to describe the events after my discovery to my subsequent recovery.

The Hypopressive-Low Pressure Fitness  can be a more effective treatment for POP than traditional methods. It can also work well in conjunction with a pelvic floor physiotherapist.