What is prolapse & how do you know if you have it? 

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is essentially a hernia where one or more of the organs held within the pelvis bulge or are displaced downward. There are different types of POP, named depending on which organ is involved.

  • A bladder prolapse; also known as an anterior wall prolapse or cystocele
  • A uterine prolapse known as procidentia if completely herniated through the vagina
  • A bowel prolapse; also known as posterior wall prolapse or rectocele
  • A urethral prolapse
  • A small bowel or sigmoid colon prolapse known as an enterocele
  • A rectal prolapse
  • A rectal intussusception

POP is more common than many people think. As many as 1 in 2 women will suffer a prolapse at some stage of their lives.

If you suffer from prolapse it can have a major impact on your life and make normal daily activities extremely uncomfortable.

Some symptoms may be:

  • Tissue bulging from the vagina
  • Pressure, pain, or a heavy feeling in the vagina, rectum or both
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention i.e. incomplete emptying
  • Faecal incontinence
  • Difficulty opening bowels / chronic constipation
  • Back or pelvic pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Lack of sexual sensation
  • Coital incontinence (leakage of urine or stool during sex)
  • Reoccurring urinary tract infections
  • Discomfort when standing too long
  • Irritation during or heaviness after exercise

How can we help:

  • At CCPL we assess your Pelvic floor to determine muscle imbalances, effects of post birth trauma and address your scar tissue.
  • We assess for prolapse and provide you with a management program involving, optimal breathing patterns, posture, pelvic floor muscle strengthening techniques and more.
  • We then design an exercise program which is guided and monitored until we see a positive change.
  • On occasion a Vaginal Pessary may be suggested as a tool to help support your pelvic floor whilst you are going through your rehab program.

Interestingly, it is important to note that some prolapses, post birth in mild or moderate cases can sometimes move back into the correct position on their own, or at least not drop down further.   You can rest in the knowledge that our Physiotherapists are aware when it is necessary to send your for a surgical consult.

However, recent studies show that regular pelvic floor exercises can improve problems caused by a pelvic organ prolapse. In fact, many women find that doing pelvic floor exercises is enough to improve the symptoms so Pelvic floor Physiotherapy should always be the first line of treatment.

Vaginal Pessaries:

A vaginal pessary is a soft prosthetic device, usually made of silicon, that is inserted into the vagina to provide support for pelvic organ prolapse. 

The goal of a pessary is to lift and support the prolapse to reduce or relieve symptoms. Pessaries can be used as a long term support or as a short term solution.

Long term support can be to help prevent or delay surgery, reduce or stop leaking urine when bladder is prolapsed.

Short term solutions for example may be for some women whist the are building confidence in their pelvic floor function therefore allowing them to run and exercise or just basically assist with stress incontinence issues whist you work on fixing your symptoms and find confidence back in your body.

What to expect

You will see one of our Physiotherapists who specialises in women’s pelvic health. She will begin by asking you a series of questions about your birth, bladder and bowel habits to obtain a detailed history.

This will be followed by an internal vaginal examination to assess if you are an appropriate candidate for a pessary.  Your physiotherapist will assess the severity of your prolapse and the quality of your skin and muscle to see if you can successfully manage the pessary.

There is no need to suffer with the uncomfortable feeling of prolapse.  Contact us to make an appointment for a one-on-one consultation and assessment today.

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