Pelvic organ prolapse is a serious but silent epidemic that needs to be brought to light. We all have a pelvic floor and the prevalence of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) increases with age and childbirth in females. Usually the pelvic region muscles and surrounding soft tissue becomes weak or overstretched and has lot its ability to hold internal organs it their respective position. This causes the
organs to start shifting down (towards gravity) and since there is not muscular support, it starts migrating out of the vaginal opening. Therefore, everyone should be aware of early signs and symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).
Pelvic pain and dysfunction is another silent epidemic that no one wants to talk about and feel embarrassed to even seek the right care. Every 1 out of 4 females suffer from pelvic dysfunction or pain, at least once in their lifetime. Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur when the pelvic floor muscles are stretched, weakened or too tight. Some people have weak pelvic floor muscles from an early age, whilst others notice problems after certain life stages suchas pregnancy, childbirth or menopause. Some people have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight and cannot relax. This can be made worse by doing squeezing exercises and overworking the muscles without learning how to relax.
My pain purpose to write this blog post is to inform and increase female awareness about the early signs and symptoms of POP or pelvic pain, which can be treated with conservative treatment. The impact of POP can really affect your quality of life. Education and awareness is very crucial in order to catch the early symptoms of this silent epidemic. I believe patients need to ask more questions and report more symptom but due to limited time during medical visits, only so much can be done.
FEW RISK FACTORS:
Elite Athletes: Crossfit, Runners, weight lifters
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
Pressure, heavines, pulling, dragging, pain, or bulge in pelvic region
Accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
Needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
Pain with intercourse
Treatment for pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and pelvic dysfunction should always begin with a conservative approach when surgery is not necessary. I believe Physical Therapy is a very underutilized treatment approach, especially for Pelvic Floor dysfunction. Physical Therapy for pelvic organ prolapse has been very beneficial if started in early stages of the condition. In my experience with patient care, I am the first one to initiate the conversation in the room. I believe females need to be more direct and open about asking questions to find out. Pelvic floor physical therapy is very effective when caught early. Patients have to do their own work on finding options and digging information online to find a matching diagnosis with their symptoms.
A few initial steps to consider:
- Diaphragmatic (deep) breathing: focusing on belly breathing to engage core, diaphragm, and pelvic muscles.
- Abdominal bracing: pull belly button in and tighten pelvic floor (stop urine flow) together in sitting/standing/walking.
I hope this helps everyone reading this blog post and looking for the first step.
Feel free to call and consult a PT in your town that specializes in pelvic floor.
Dr. Aman Dhaliwal PT, DPT
Serving Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy in Tracy, CA