Why prolapse happens is an interesting question. Whilst it would be simpler to offer one reason, that often isn’t the case. In-fact, pelvic organ prolapse can be:
- The result of something done repeatedly that gradually reduces the available support of the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments over time
- An event (such as birth) on an already challenged pelvic floor
- Appear to have no rhyme or reason as to why it’s occurred
Literature names these as the main reasons as why pelvic organ prolapse happend
- Increasing age (often why menopausal women may experience prolapse symptoms)
- Asthma or chronic cough
- Family history
- Genetic disorder
- Long pushing phase in delivery
- Chronic constipation
- Heavy occupational work
- Vaginal delivery
- The use of forceps in delivery
- Levator Ani avulsion
- BMI of 25 or more (although some literature disputes this)
Image of Different types of pelvic organ prolapse by Burrell Education 2023
Do you feel you are to blame for your prolapse?
Blaming yourself for a prolapse occurring is super common. It often feels that you can cite the singular event that caused the feeling of heaviness or sudden presense of a visible bulge.
The fact is that no-one should blame themselves because its true cause is multi-factorial.
Here are some scenarios:
You blame going back to Crossfit or your regular high-intensity workouts too soon after giving birth. The likelihood is that you were still healing and it wasn’t the workout itself but the sudden changes in pressure that were just a little overwhelming for your pelvic floor. It could equally have been a long walk or a bout of coughing or sneezing. It’s also possible that you already had some prolapse from delivery (which is super common following birth) and it was after this, you noticed the symptoms.
You blame the babywearing for long periods of time after a forceps delivery or physically traumatic birth. You were probably not made aware of healing times (particularly for an assisted delivery) or the additional load on a pelvic floor that was still in the process of healing.
You blame yourself for not rectifying your chronic constipation. and maybe you’re noticing symptoms as part of perimenopause or menopause. Aging and hormone fluctuations (especially estrogen) can affect the quality of the tissues. It’s not that you haven’t looked after your muscles but that your hormones aren’t particularly helpful. Especially if your job has included lots of lifting and/or no-one has ever mentioned the impact of constipation on your pelvic health.
Liberating yourself from the blame game
Sometimes the most useful approach is to recognize that there is no single cause of pelvic organ prolapse. But that things happen that are out of our control.
And that pelvic organ prolapse is incredibly common. Literature shows up to 50% of women will experience prolapse symptoms in their lifetime. I am one of those!
Fancy reading more? Here’s how online coaching can help improve symptoms and get you back to the exercise you love.