Anna Winstanley Physiotherapy York

Pelvic Organ Prolapse – a simple guide

Pelvic Organ Prolapse is a change in the vagina, whereby another pelvic organ – the bladder, uterus or rectum moves down into the vaginal space. It can cause problems with continence, sex, self-esteem and a womans ability to lead an active life. 

What does it feel like?

  • Heaviness in the genital or lower abdominal area.
  • Dragging
  • Something coming down out of your vagina or rectum.
  • A bulge you can feel or see

Women will often report that their prolapse symptoms vary  – feeling worse towards the end of the day, at certain times during their monthly cycle or after opening bowels.

What’s going on down there?

The diagram below is looking sideways-on, so the left of the diagram is the pubic bone and the right of the diagram is the tailbone. You can see the anatomical changes taking place where either the bladder, the uterus (womb) or the rectum (back passage) are protruding into the space that is the vagina. This explains some of the common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse described above. Some things you do, such as sneezing, coughing or certain movements might increase the pressure inside your abdomen, causing the organs to get pushed further down. However, this isn’t always the same for everybody, so it’s important to get individual advice. 

Diagram of types of pelvic organ prolapse

How can physio help?

My holistic assessment helps me to gain a full picture of what may be influencing your pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and identify things that you can do to improve. 

You may be offered an internal assessment of your pelvic floor to ascertain if there is any muscle weakness or over-activity that needs to be addressed. 

Physiotherapy treatment is aimed at improving your reported symptoms, your ability to manage the symptoms yourself and your ability to get on with your life.

Treatment may include lifestyle advice, pelvic floor exercises, and helpful information. Many women gain a lot of benefit from understanding their prolapse and having a safe space in which to ask questions.

Pelvic floor exercises can help to improve the muscular support of the pelvic organs as well as helping with any symptoms of incontinence. Understanding how pressure is created inside the abdominal and pelvic cavity and what you can do to manage this can also help to gain greater control over the symptoms and fosters confidence in returning to exercise. 

I can also help you to make sense of other options available to you including pessaries, surgery, support garments and advocate on your behalf if necessary. 

Where can I find more information and support?

Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy’s Pelvic Organ Prolapse Patient information booklet

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Anna Winstanley

Anna Winstanley

Hi I’m Anna, a Women's Health Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor in York with a nerdy passion for all things women’s health and wellbeing. I’ve worked with countless women over the years, helping them to feel strong, overcome pain and improve their quality of life so they can be marvellous mums, excellent employees and super selves.

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