Let’s talk lady bits. We all know that once you have a baby – well not even then – the nine months BEFORE you bring that sweet cherub into the world, your nether-regions go through one helluva time. And I want to talk about it.
No beating around the bush (pun intended), I want to talk about vaginal prolapse. Because sweet mother of mercy, we women know when something is up with our bodies / isn’t quite right / bouncing back / not even nudging back. And then we don’t say anything because of awkwardness, embarrassment or just accepting this as the new normal. BUT ENOUGH.
Grab a cuppa, saddle up and let’s talk about it.
What is vaginal prolapse?
Believe it or not, The Royal Women’s Hospital reports vaginal prolapse as a common health condition. It’s where the bladder, uterus and bowel protrude into the vagina. The biggest cause of prolapse is pregnancy and childbirth. #blessedmums
Have kids they said…
It’s true, almost 50% of women who have been pregnant will have some kind of prolapse. UGH. Carrying those precious babes together with extra weight and hormone changes weakens your pelvic floor. And then you push it to the limits (literally) during childbirth, particularly if you had to actively push for a long time. #prayforthepelvicfloor
But I haven’t had a baby for a long time…
Unfortunately, prolapse doesn’t discriminate. You’re also more likely to have a vaginal prolapse if:
- Someone else in your family has had a prolapse. So be brave and casually bring up the subject over a cup of tea with your mum, aunt or nanna
- You suffer a lot with constipation and often strain to go to the toilet
- You regularly lift heavy things (like toddlers, older children, furniture, the dog…)
- If you have fibroids or a pelvic tumour
- You’re overweight
- You cough a lot with asthma, bronchitis or as a result of smoking
What are prolapse symptoms or what does it feel like?
There are a few symptoms which are associated with vaginal prolapse. You might be able to feel or see a vaginal lump, a feeling of vaginal heaviness, have constipation issues, have trouble emptying your bowel or bladder or even when you have sex, things just don’t quite feel the same.
If you’re having any of these prolapse symptoms, do seek treatment. Don’t just accept that it’s a body change because you’ve carried kilograms of a growing baby in the same region!
Who should I see?
Just go see your local doctor! Your GP will be able to diagnose a prolapse with an examination and asking you a series of questions about your health history. You can even tie it in with a cervical smear – that’s two birds, one stone!
Can a prolapse be fixed?
With treatment, a prolapse CAN be improved. Your doctor might refer you to a specialising doctor (ie. a urogynaecologist) for treatment. Treatment will depend on which organ has moved (your type of prolapse) and by its stage of severity. Your age, health, medical history and if you want to have more children will determine your treatment.
Typical treatments include:
Lifestyle changes – to stop doing the things that can cause or worsen a prolapse. Lose weight, quit smoking, improve your diet and stop lifting all of the heavy things.
Physiotherapy – yes, and it’s not as bad as you think. Physiotherapy is all about strengthening the pelvic floor that supports your organs. A specialised pelvic exercise routine is the ultimate shelfie fix if done correctly.
A pessary – you might need what I like to call ‘structural support’. Like a good reno, a pessary is a small plastic or silicon support that is placed in your vagina to hold up the prolapsed organ. It’s not a prolapse fix but it does lessen symptoms and make life a little more comfortable.
Surgery – There’s many prolapse surgery options, all of them trying to fix a prolapse, torn or stretched pelvic floor and prevent it happening again. Bear in mind, some surgeries will mean you can no longer have children, so you need to consider that.
It should be noted that treatment isn’t always successful and sometimes a prolapse will annoyingly come back. UGH.
How can I PREVENT a prolapse?
YES you can, thank the vagina gods for that!
Prevention is SUPER EASY. You can prevent prolapse pretty much by doing the opposite of the prolapse triggers. Avoid excessive weight gain, eat a healthy diet, address issues such as constipation and look after your pelvic floor through regular, pelvic floor exercises – and I’m not talking about getting happy in the sack with sexual exercise, I’m talking about kegels.
Our best tip for preventing vaginal prolapse is to look into pelvic strengthening products. Where does one find such items? Surely Woolies doesn’t stock them.
Our go-to place? APE Medical. They supply a huge range of women’s health products specifically made for women’s rehab including pelvic floor stimulators, retrainers and strengthening devices to strengthen that pelvic floor and prevent vaginal prolapse.
We especially like the Elvie, a pelvic floor trainer that connects to your phone. The Elvie makes practicing and retraining your pelvic floor easy and fun. Not only does it measure your pelvic floor strength and endurance but it also ensures you are contracting your muscles correctly, which is key when managing prolapse. Technology, where would we be without you?
We also love their latest in prolapse support garments. The SRC Restore support garment is specifically designed to support mild uterine and bladder prolapse, and stimulate the pelvic floor to function, which will improve your quality of life. It’s a game-changer.
You can pick up the Elvie, the Restore, as well as heaps of other pelvic floor stimulators, through APE. APE is discrete, competitive and you’ll receive 10% off your next purchase. Simply use the code SAVE10 at the checkout. #SCORE.
Everything is going to be FINE.
It will be. I want you to be able to run, move and enjoy sex again! I don’t want you to suffer in silence wondering if what’s going on with your vagina is normal or just accepting that this is your new “post-baby body”. It absolutely doesn’t have to be this way. Vaginal prolapse is SO common so please go see a doctor about it for treatment – it’s going to be FINE!