Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is highly prevalent and has shown that 50% of women over the age of 50 report prolapse related symptoms. 11% of women will undergo surgery for their prolapse in their lifetime, with 27% of women requiring repeated surgery.As well as this, 20% of women with POP are unaware of its presence.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs then the group of muscles of the pelvic floor are unable to support the internal organs including the bladder, bowel and uterus and they therefore drop from their ususal position. When this occurs, there is an increased pressure felt on the walls of the vagina.
Signs and symptoms of POP:
• The feeling of heaviness or dragging in the abdomen, vagina or rectum
• The feeling of something ‘coming down’, lump or bulge in the vagina or rectum
• Bladder changes: such as- Difficulty emptying and weak or slow urine stream
• Bowel changes: such as straining/pain or feeling like you haven’t finished
• Recurrent urinary tract infections
• Sexual changes: such pain or reduced sensation
There are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing a POP. It is often related to an increased stress or trauma of the pelvic floor muscles, which then are unable to maintain the organs regular position in the lower abdomen.
Common risk factors for prolapse include:
• Pregnancy and vaginal deliveries
• Constipation and straining
• Hormone changes
• Increased weight
• Heavy lifting
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, you can seek help from your physiotherapist. It has been proved that the use of physiotherapy and pelvic floor training can reduce prolapse symptoms and is recommended as a first line treatment for prolapse. Management of prolapse may revolve around pelvic floor muscle training, optimising bladder and bowel habits or general lifestyle modification.