Think you have pelvic organ prolapse? Start Here.
Alright, so you’ve heard of pelvic organ prolapse. You’re somewhat familiar with the symptoms. You were hoping you wouldn’t ever need to put that knowledge to use, but here we are. Maybe you started feeling a bulging or tampon falling out feeling by the end of the day. Maybe you just feel something is off, like things aren’t quite right down there. Maybe what you’re feeling is a bit more sinister and you’re absolutely terrified right now.
Whatever you’re feeling, I want you to stop, take a big deep breath, and know that you’re in the right place.
I’ve been where you are. In fact, I could scroll back in my Instagram feed and show you a post that I remember writing when my son was about 16 months old. It was the moment I stepped off of the curb to go on a walk and felt something that I’d only read about- a specific kind of drop or heaviness that could only be the sign of something I SO DID NOT want it to be.
I was terrified. I felt like my world was going to come crashing down around me. Like everything I knew or was as a mother, a woman, a trainer, would forever be changed.
I also felt pretty stupid. I KNOW this stuff like the back of my hand. I’ve studied about pelvic organ prolapse, I’ve worked with women who had or have it, and I know where to go to get help. Something in me thought that meant that I did something wrong, did something to cause it, and I should have known better.
I’ll dig into more of my own personal story in another article on this subject because in this blog I want to talk about the 3 things you should START with if you are worried you have pelvic organ prolapse. I want to meet you at the very beginning, give you a hug (if you’re a hug kind of person), tell you it’s going to be okay, and guide you in a positive direction- because so much of what we see out there in regards to POP is SO not positive.
So, if you think you have pelvic organ prolapse. I want you to start here. Right here. And know that I’m with you, I see you, and I’m here to help you find your team.
Find a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area and make an appointment.
If you’ve been following me for a while and reading my stuff, you know this is always top of the list. A pelvic floor physical therapist will give you an assessment and WAY more guidance as to what is going on in your unique situation. Sometimes symptoms that are common for pelvic organ prolapse can also be caused by other things and before you start doing millions of kegels to remedy the situation, it is SUPER important to go get checked out by a pro to make sure if that is even the right approach for you. Also, there’s WAY more to pelvic floor physical therapy than kegels. You can find a pelvic floor PT near you using the directory at pelvicguru.com or the Herman and Wallace directory.
Can’t find a pelvic floor physical therapist near you? Some PT’s do remote work with patients. Please reach out if you can’t find or access one near you and I’ll reach out to the people I know to get you the help you need.
Seriously. Don’t. Google is terrifying, especially when it comes to pelvic organ prolapse. You can go in trying to get some information on symptoms and come out thinking you can never lift your kids again without your organs falling out of your body. I KNOW how tempting it is, but please don’t Google. And if you just can’t help it, look for peer reviewed studies on the topic or information from people like MyPFM and PelvicGuru. These two you can follow on Instagram as well and are always putting out helpful, non fear-mongering information.
If you’re active, or you want to be, seek out the help and advice of a pregnancy and postpartum specific trainer who has experience working with people with POP.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when faced with a possible POP diagnosis, but it also may be the first thing on your mind. I know it was for me. Again, if you consult Google, you’re going to get a whole lot more don’ts than you will do’s. You may come out thinking you can never squat again, lifting is completely off the table, and basically to just walk and do yoga for the rest of your life (but also to be careful doing yoga… ugh, seriously I’ve seen so much crappy information out there.)
It is possible to still do the things you love with POP. It’s still possible to run, jump, lift, do high intensity exercise, and feel normal again. But, just like returning to exercise postpartum, there has to be progression and intention behind it. Jumping right in to what you did before may not work out and it can leave you feeling really down. Having a coach who is educated about POP and how to work with people with POP can be a very valuable resource. They will be able to help you progress back to the things you love to do, work with your PT to get you the best results, keep tabs on your symptoms and adjust workouts as necessary, and just be a sounding board and support for you when you need one.
You can find a coach like that in your area using the directory at pelvicguru.com. If you can’t find someone in your area, many coaches work remotely- like myself. I work remotely with clients 1:1, and recently developed a 6-week program, Foundations of Symptom-Free Fitness, with the goal of being a jumping off point for people who are struggling with symptoms related to diastasis recti, POP, incontinence, and pelvic pain to return back to fitness feeling confident in their bodies. Enrollment is open through Saturday for this 6-week session. Check it out here if you’re interested in learning more.
AND a little bonus: If you’re pregnant or early postpartum, know that there is plenty of time for symptoms to change because your body is changing… A LOT.
Know that your body is always changing. Your hormones are doing a number on your body. You may notice when hormones run rampant (like in pregnancy, early postpartum, or near your cycle), your symptoms tend to get worse. While your symptoms may be bad during those times, getting the proper help and also keeping tabs on your sleep, stress levels, activity levels, and stage of pregnancy/postpartum can help you feel less lost and broken.
Many women also find that checking themselves for vaginal bulge can be incredibly helpful and give you control and insight into your body. Here’s a photo from MyPFM on how to do just that!
A potential POP diagnosis can be scary. It can feel really lonely and isolating.It doesn’t have to be that way. Getting the help you need from the get go can be such a game changer. One thing I always mention is that no practitioner is alike. You should always feel supported and heard after leaving an appointment or a meeting with a doctor, PT, or coach. The people helping you should be giving you hope, not blanket rules or making you feel worse. So always assess how you feel about the situation and get a second opinion if you feel held back, frustrated, or like your goals aren’t being honored. YOU matter in this situation. YOU matter always.
If you found this helpful, please like, comment, and share. Chances are if you needed to hear this, someone else does as well. Let’s spread the hope and positivity around like wildfire.