Many women experience pelvic organ prolapse after pregnancy and delivery. Less severe forms of prolapse can be managed with pelvic floor physical therapy and a pessary, which is a device that holds your organs in place while you build strength.
Normally, your pelvic organs such as your bladder, urethra, uterus, and rectum, are held in place in the pelvic cavity by ligaments, your pelvic floor muscles, fascia, and the vaginal wall connective tissues. When one or more of these structures is weakened, a pelvic organ prolapse can occur.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when one or multiple of your pelvic organs drops from its normal resting position into the vaginal canal and in severe cases out of the vaginal opening.
The most common cause of these tissues being weakened is pregnancy and delivery. However, don’t think that because you had a c-section, you can’t get a prolapse – they can happen because of just the weight of the baby over 40 weeks on your pelvic organs and the supporting structures. Prolapse can also occur in people with chronic constipation or instances of chronic straining.
Pelvic organ prolapses are often graded on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being quite mild and 4 being quite severe. Typically a grade 4 prolapse will require surgery at some point. However, grades 1-3 can be improved with pelvic floor physical therapy and other treatments.
One treatment that is quite common is a pessary. A pessary is a devise that fits into your vagina and gives support to your pelvic organs. Pessaries can be used to help hold the pelvic organs up into place during functional activities such as prolonged walking, running, gardening, or any activity that you feel increased pelvic pressure or incontinence caused by pelvic organ prolapse.
Pessaries may be used long term, but are often used as an aide during pelvic floor therapy to help support the pelvic floor muscles while you are working on normalizing the tone of the muscles and improving posture to prevent further prolapse or help to improve the position of the organs.
Prolapse symptoms can include:
If you have any of these symptoms, you should to speak to your physician about whether you have a pelvic organ prolapse and if pelvic floor physical therapy and a pessary can help. The pessary is like a crutch – there to help you support the organs. However, you ultimately want to try to fix the problem, improve the internal support from the pelvic floor and other supporting structures.
If you have a prolapse, click here to schedule a complimentary phone consultation with one of our physical therapists to discuss your symptoms.
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