Many things about prolapse don’t make sense. But, through education, we can try and make sense of these things. This leads to a better understanding of our bodies, as well as how to navigate life with prolapse. This blog will describe 5 things about prolapse that don’t make sense.
1. Prolapse isn't just an old women's thing!
Whilst prolapse is common post birth (see link to blog called 5 ways to improve postpartum prolapse), or as a result of aging, it can happen anytime. Even if you haven’t had a baby. I work with women in their 20”s through to their 80’s, all with their own unique story and experience.
This means that incorporating education about pelvic health as well as seeing pelvic floor training as an important part of women’s wellbeing is really helpful. Whilst we do not know if prolapse can be prevented, education alone can help symptoms (see research by Blanchard et al 2021) and training sessions can further reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
2. Grade does not equal symptoms
Research by Drage et al suggests that symptom severity doesn’t necessarily correlate with the grade or stage of prolapse (blog to come on this soon!). This means you can lots of prolapse symptoms, such as heaviness, the stuck tampon feeling and dragging but there is only a small amount of decent into the vaginal canal. Equally, there may be a higher grade or stage prolapse and very few symptoms. Particularly if there is generally less sensation “down there” due to aging and hormonal fluctuations. The next paragraph will talk more about symptoms, but we understand symptoms to be complex (just as we are!) rather than simply reflecting structural change.
3. A strong pelvic floor doesn't mean symptoms will disappear
There is a huge benefit to strengthening and improving the function of your pelvic floor, and I think it should form a part of any prolapse rehab programme. However, many women are simply told to “just do Kegels” without the context and education around prolapse and prolapse symptoms. In fact many clients come to me, having been very diligent with Kegels but are still experiencing prolapse symptoms or leaking. Kegels are not a fix all because prolapse is more complex! Symptoms can be driven by many factors including;
- Fear of the future,
- Change or loss of identity
- Feeling weaker and more deconditioned, due to exercise restrictions
- Fear of movement (again, driven by movement restrictions)
- Breathing and tension tendencies that increase pressure
- Poor pressure management
Taking a symptoms first approach and understanding someones lived experience AND movement tendencies can help understand and improve symptoms.
4. Your prolapse might not always "look the same"
Yes! The appearance and sensation of your prolapse (especially if you have a visible bulge of vaginal tissue) might look different throughout the day. And even across the month, which may be down to hormonal fluctuations, and things feeling a “little looser” at certain times of your cycle. It can be helpful to understand these fluctuations in appearance and symptoms. This can help reduce worry, anxiety and fear around prolapse. Many of my clients will get to a point of 99% asymptomatic but also experience a few symptoms often before, or during their period of ovulation. This is normal and can help make prolapse symptoms predictable, which is reassuring.
5. You can live a full and active life (even if you have prolapse)
I know you might feel a world away from where you used to be. But I do believe and I do see so many women getting back to living the life they want. Even if they have pelvic organ prolapse. Both my prolapse coaching programmes focus on reversing symptoms as well as building strength in the pelvic floor and your whole body. Gentle coaching and expert programming that builds strength, confidence, and capacity. You can find out more here – click on each to learn more
Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence. She has been featured in publications such as Stylist, Marie Claire UK, Woman & Home, and Metro