Women diagnosed with Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) may feel confused about what the diagnosis means, and what treatments are available. It is important that women become educated on the subject since approximately 50 percent will be diagnosed with it. POP occurs when a weakened pelvic floor allows pelvic organs to fall, or drop, placing pressure on the vagina.
The good news is that many cases of POP, especially cases with very mild to moderate symptoms, can be treated using physiotherapy — physical therapy — rather than surgery. Some surgical procedures, especially those using transvaginal mesh, have been linked to serious and irreversible health complications. Physiotherapy can often reverse the symptoms of POP, allowing women to skip risky surgical treatment altogether.
Can Pelvic Organ Prolapse be Avoided?
One of the most natural ways to avoid POP is to do physiotherapy-based exercises before POP sets in. POP is usually diagnosed in women between the ages of 50 and 79 because menopause is a time when estrogen levels decrease and pelvic tissues become thin and weak.
Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of POP. Additional factors include smoking and obesity. Women can be proactive about their pelvic health by leading a healthy lifestyle and doing daily exercises, such as Kegels, to keep pelvic muscles healthy and strong.
Physiotherapy Options for Treating Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Once POP has been diagnosed, there are several safe and effective methods for treating it. Women will want to discuss these options with their doctor before agreeing to surgery.
Pelvic Floor Exercises: Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels, Yoga and Pilates can help to strengthen the pelvic floor and core muscles. This can often reverse mild symptoms and protect organs from prolapsing further.
Pelvic Physiotherapy: There are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic health. A doctor can recommend a pelvic physical therapist who will instruct and guide women through a series of exercises that focus on pelvic muscles to reverse the symptoms of POP. Women with a family history of POP may want to start these exercises when they are young to help prevent POP.
Electrical Stimulation: Doctors can use electrical stimulation to manually strengthen pelvic floor muscles, if Kegel exercises aren’t enough. They also have biofeedback machines that can demonstrate whether a woman is doing pelvic exercises effectively. If the feedback indicates the muscles aren’t being stimulated, a doctor can work to instruct the patient on how to do the exercises more effectively.
Not only is pelvic physiotherapy beneficial for women with POP, it can also help women who experience incontinence. In fact, research demonstrates that women who perform proper Kegel exercises on a daily basis during pregnancy are much less likely to develop incontinence during their third trimester. Continued use of these exercises can prevent incontinence altogether.
Other Non-Invasive Treatments
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that women with mild to moderate POP opt for more conservative treatments, as opposed to surgical treatments. The organization has also stressed the importance of taking preventative actions against the development of POP.
Healthy Lifestyle: POP can be prevented. Many of the symptoms of POP are worsened by unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking and chronic straining, such as with constipation, and obesity. By maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and weight, the risk of POP can be minimized.
Vaginal pessary: A pessary is a removable device placed into the vagina, designed to support prolapsed organs. Pessaries hold organs in the correct place before it becomes enlarged and protrudes through the vagina. The pessary is fitted as to not cause discomfort. Symptoms of POP usually improve or go away after pessary use. Risks include wearing of vaginal wall and bleeding; but can be prevented by insuring the device fits correctly.
Working with doctors, and implementing physiotherapy when necessary, can prevent the development of POP and can often reverse existing symptoms of the condition. Transvaginal mesh, a common surgical device used to treat POP, has been determined risky by the Food and Drug Administration. Thousands of women who are suffering from its use have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits against the manufacturers. Now, it is more important than ever that women do all they can to prevent the need for risky surgical procedures.
For further updates on this condition and its treatments, stay tuned to Fitnesspedia.