Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that many women experience. In fact, 50% of women may develop POP in their lifetime. In this blog, we’ll explore what pelvic organ prolapse is, its causes and symptoms, and how physiotherapy can help.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum, and small intestine) become weakened or stretched, causing one or more of these organs to descend. This condition can affect women of all ages but is more common in those who have given birth or are going through menopause.

Causes of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Several factors can contribute to the development of pelvic organ prolapse, including:

  • Childbirth: Vaginal delivery, particularly multiple or difficult births.
  • Aging and Menopause: Decreased estrogen levels and natural aging can lead to weakened pelvic support structures.
  • Chronic Pressure: Conditions that increase pressure on the abdomen, such as chronic cough, constipation, or heavy lifting, can contribute to POP.
  • Genetics: A family history of pelvic organ prolapse may increase the risk.
  • Previous Surgery: Pelvic surgeries, including hysterectomy, can weaken the pelvic floor.

Symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can vary depending on the severity and which organs are affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Pelvic Pressure: A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area.
  • Vaginal Bulge: A noticeable bulge or protrusion from the vagina.
  • Discomfort During Intercourse: Pain or discomfort during sexual activity.
  • Urinary Issues: Difficulty urinating, frequent urination, or urinary incontinence.
  • Bowel Problems: Constipation or difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Lower Back or Lower Abdominal Pain: Discomfort or pain in the pubic region, lower abdomen, lower back or pelvic region.

How Physiotherapy Can Help with Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Physiotherapy provides an effective approach to managing pelvic organ prolapse. Here’s how physiotherapy can help:

  1. Comprehensive Assessment

    A thorough assessment by a pelvic health physiotherapist is crucial to understanding the extent of the prolapse and identifying contributing factors. This includes evaluating the strength and function of the pelvic floor muscles, posture, and lifestyle habits.

  2. Pelvic Floor Muscle Training

    Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is a key component of managing pelvic organ prolapse. A physiotherapist will guide you through targeted exercises, to enhance muscle strength and support the pelvic organs.

  3. Biofeedback

    Biofeedback involves using sensors to provide real-time feedback on pelvic floor muscle activity. This helps you learn how to properly engage and strengthen these muscles effectively.

  4. Manual Therapy

    Manual therapy techniques, such as internal and external pelvic floor muscle release, can help alleviate tension and improve muscle function.

  5. Lifestyle and Postural Advice

    Physiotherapists provide advice on lifestyle modifications to reduce symptoms and prevent further prolapse. This includes guidance on proper lifting techniques, bowel management, and modifying breathing techniques or activities that increase abdominal pressure.

  6. Pessary Fitting

    In some cases, a pessary—a device inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs—can be used alongside physiotherapy. 

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

  • Reduced Symptoms: Effective management of discomfort and pressure associated with prolapse.
  • Improved Pelvic Floor Strength: Enhanced muscle support for the pelvic organs.
  • Better Bladder and Bowel Control: Reduction in urinary and bowel symptoms.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: Improved ability to participate in daily activities without discomfort.
  • Non-Invasive Treatment: Physiotherapy provides a safe, non-surgical option for managing POP.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a manageable condition, and seeking help can significantly improve your quality of life. Physiotherapy offers a comprehensive and effective approach to managing POP, focusing on strengthening the pelvic floor, reducing symptoms, and improving overall well-being.

At Hollyburn Physiotherapy Clinic, we are proud to provide pelvic health physiotherapy and are committed to helping people achieve better pelvic health. If you are experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Schedule an appointment today and take the first step towards a more comfortable and active life.

Francesca Ruddick

Francesca Ruddick

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