Bodily Remedy for Pelvic Organ Prolapse


Hypothesis and Emerging Research

Hypothesis and Emerging Research

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Some early observations support this concept (or parts of the theory), and there is a scientific interest in elucidating exactly what is at work.

Physiotherapy for pelvic organ prolapse

Physiotherapy for pelvic organ prolapse

Sara Tanza

Pelvic floor prolapse is a pelvic floor dysfunction that is common in people after pregnancy. In her practice, the physiotherapist Sara Tanza supports people in strengthening their pelvic floor during and after pregnancy in order to prepare them for optimal postpartum recovery.

(Pregnancy isn’t the only way a pelvic organ prolapse can develop. Read our goop PhD article on Pelvic Organ prolapse to learn more about the condition, other treatment options, and the latest research.)

A Q&A with Sara Tanza

Q What is a pelvic organ prolapse? What are its symptoms? A

A pelvic organ prolapse is when the bladder, uterus, rectum, or a combination of these organs move down from their original position and bulge into the walls of the vagina or anus. Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Sometimes people have a severe prolapse and they have no symptoms at all. In other cases, people have very little prolapse and feel a lot of symptoms. The most common symptom that patients describe is a feeling of heaviness or bulging in their vagina or rectum, or a feeling like a tampon is falling out of their vagina. Some patients may feel a bulge when reaching into their vagina or, in some cases, see tissue from their body bulging out of the vagina or anus. It is important to have your doctor or midwife examine you for these signs. In some states, such as California, where you can get direct access to physical therapy without visiting a health care provider, you can see a physical therapist right away.

Q What are the factors that contribute to the prolapse of the pelvic organs? A

There are many factors and we don’t know all of them, but they can be grouped into two categories: things that put pressure on the pelvic floor and things that directly weaken the pelvic floor. Pregnancy, chronic cough, chronic constipation, obesity of the upper body, gastrointestinal complaints, heavy lifting with the wrong technique, and a history of bulimia and vomiting lead to increased pressure on the pelvic floor and can contribute to the development of a pelvic organ prolapse.

And the pelvic floor muscles can weaken during a vaginal birth, which is one of the main reasons for a pelvic organ prolapse to develop. Genetically, some people have looser fascia, which affects the strength of the pelvic floor. And as you age, muscles can atrophy due to less estrogen, especially in the postmenopausal period. I’ve even found that some of my patients may have their menstrual prolapse worsen when their estrogen levels are at their lowest.

Q Can women self-test for signs of a pelvic organ prolapse? A

Yes, I encourage my patients to self-check. They serve as a good basic indicator so that you know when something is wrong. To do a self-test: Place your fingers in your vagina in a sitting position. Feel the front, back, and side walls of the vagina and continue reaching down to your cervix. In general, you shouldn’t feel a bulge or that anything is pressing into your vaginal wall.

Q How can physical therapy during pregnancy help reduce the chance of a pelvic organ prolapse due to childbirth? A

By training the pelvic floor to intentionally relax and contract muscles during pregnancy, we prepare people for a good recovery afterwards. Ideally, we want to discover the best birthing position for the pelvic floor. Every birth is different. When treating people while they are pregnant, it is helpful to show them how to relax their pelvic muscles, as this is not always intuitive. It’s not like seeing your arm in the mirror and getting visual feedback that your arm is relaxed. With physical therapy, we can help people realize what it feels like to tighten and relax these muscles, and we can adapt to their unique birthing needs. For example, a person’s vaginal wall might be very tight on the right side and relaxed on the left. We can work on relaxing the right side and practicing birthing positions that will make up the difference – lying on the left might be a better position for them to deliver the baby and cause less damage to their pelvic floor.

Q Are there strategies people can use at home to reduce their chances of developing a pelvic organ prolapse during pregnancy? A

One important thing is to manage the pressure in your body. It is very common for pregnant people standing up from a chair to hold their breath while pushing up. When you hold your breath, that pressure goes into your abdominal area and creates more pressure on your pelvic floor. Instead of holding your breath before changing positions, exhale first. So, before you roll over in bed, pick up a child, get out of a chair, or stand up, begin to exhale. This is a simple thing that can be done during pregnancy or early after giving birth to help protect the pelvic floor.

Another thing is to try to have regular and softer bowel movements. Hard stools and constipation can put additional strain on the pelvic floor muscles. So talk to your midwife and doctor about whether this is happening through more hydration, different foods, or different dietary supplements.

{“Sizes”: {“Mobile”:[[300,250]],”Tablet”:[[300,250]]”Desktop”:[]}, “targeting”: {“pos”: “rightrail”}, “adUnit”: ” / 55303442 / ros”} Q If someone develops a pelvic organ prolapse, how is it treated? A

It varies from patient to patient, but is generally a combination of pelvic floor physiotherapy and sometimes pessaries. Pessaries are silicone medical devices inserted into the vagina that support the pelvic floor and help position muscles so that they contract better. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes – a doctor or midwife can help you choose the right fit. Pelvic floor therapy trains the pelvic floor and supporting muscles so that symptoms are alleviated and patients become more active. Sometimes a prolapse cannot be treated with pessaries and physical therapy. In these cases there are surgical options.

Sara Tanza, PT, DPT, CFMT, specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction. Tanza is the founder of Pelvic Potential Physical Therapy and VP of She.Is.Beautiful, one of the largest running races for women in the country. It helps people to feel more comfortable in their body. To learn more about working with Tanza or for information about their upcoming online program, start here.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied on for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of a doctor or alternative practitioner, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of goop.




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