Why Are Pelvic Floor Exercises So Important?
What Are My Pelvic Floor Muscles?
While you can’t actually see them, your pelvic floor muscles are essential in supporting your pelvic organs, like the bladder, uterus and bowel. At Bump Fitness, we can provide you with a customised pelvic floor training program to keep your pelvic muscles strong. If your pelvic organs aren’t well supported, you may develop a pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
What’s a Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Your pelvic organs including bladder, bowels and uterus are suspended in your pelvis by ligaments and fascia (connective tissue). The pelvic floor muscles also support the organs from below in a hammock like position. If your ligaments and fascia are stretched or torn and your pelvic floor is weak then some of your pelvic organs can start to protrude downwards.
The typical causes of a POP are heavy lifting, constipation, being overweight or a persistent cough (asthma or smoker’s cough) and childbirth. Over 50% of women who have given birth will have a prolapse, and it won’t go away if you just ignore it! It is important to see a qualified women’s health physiotherapist or your doctor for advice on treatment.
How do I know if I have a Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
There are a few signs that you may have a pelvic organ prolapse. Sometimes, women can be unaware, but the condition would be noticed in their routine pap smear – so ladies, make sure you’ve got yours booked in!
There are some symptoms of a POP to watch out for:
- A heavy sensation or dragging in the vagina
- Lump bulging out of the vagina
- Pain or less sensation during sex
- Unable to empty bladder completely or a week urine stream
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Difficulty emptying bowels
How can I prevent or treat a Prolapse?
The best way to prevent a prolapse is to keep your pelvic floor strong, maintain a healthy diet (with lots of fibre to prevent constipation!) and always breathe when doing heavy lifting to avoid any abdominal pressure pushing down on the organs.
Lifestyle modifications for weight loss and help with quitting smoking, as well as manual handling training for heavy lifting can help reduce these other risks.
Depending on the severity of the prolapse, the first line of treatment would be a pelvic floor training program, prescribed by a women’s’ health physiotherapist, as well as lifestyle and exercise modification.
If this isn’t effective, a pessary may be required. A pessary is a silicone device inserted into the vagina to prop it up. If both these fail you will be referred to a specialist for surgery to repair the torn ligaments and fascia.
See your doctor or a qualified women’s health physiotherapist for an assessment.
If you’ve got any questions, contact us at Bump Fitness for more information.