1 in 3 women are affected by pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
POP is the descent of one or more of the pelvic organs of the vagina. The pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs. You can have different types of prolapse, but the bladder (cystocele), bowel (rectocele) and the womb (uterine) are the most common.
During early-stage POP, you may not have any symptoms, but you might experience a feeling of heaviness or dragging or a lump or bulge in your vagina. Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel, recurrent urinary tract infections, sexual pain, and lower back pain can also be symptoms of a more progressed prolapse.
A specialist pelvic health physiotherapist can assess, treat and rehabilitate your prolapse. Depending on your presentation, your specialist pelvic health physiotherapist might:
- assess your prolapse and pelvic floor through vaginal examination and/or by using real-time ultrasound.
- help treat and rehabilitate your prolapse using several strategies including: educating you on how to exercise the pelvic floor muscles correctly, providing advice to help you empty your bladder and bowel more effectively, or to help you to have pain-free sexual intercourse, fit you with a pessary, develop a personalised exercise program for you or recommend specific lifestyle changes.
A pessary is a device made from either plastic or silicone that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs and help reduce the symptoms of prolapse. Surgery may be considered if conservative measures have failed or if the prolapse is severe.