Approximately 50 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 79 are diagnosed with a condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). Most of these women have experienced pregnancy and childbirth, which are two of the most common risk factors for POP. If the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse become severe enough, women may require surgical intervention. Unfortunately, some of the medical devices used in these surgical procedures, such as transvaginal mesh, have been linked to serious and irreversible health complications. Physiotherapy can help to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong, which can prevent POP from developing or can dramatically reduce the symptoms.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) occurs when the connective tissues and muscles in the pelvic area become weakened. This can be a natural process as women age, especially as menopause approaches when estrogen levels begin to decrease. However, other factors, such as pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, smoking, or a previous pelvic injury, can cause the symptoms to be more severe.
In many cases of POP, women have no symptoms and the condition is noticed by their doctor during a routine pelvic exam. In moderate to severe cases, the pelvic tissues become so weak that organs, namely the uterus, cervix, bladder, urethra or rectum, begin to drop toward the pelvic floor. In the most severe cases, tissues or organs can prolapse and protrude from the vagina.
By keeping the muscles in the upper vagina and pelvic floor strong, and by living a healthy lifestyle, pelvic tissues can remain healthy enough to prevent the symptoms of severe POP.
Physiotherapy to Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse
There are several preventative measures that also serve as non-invasive treatments for POP.
- Pelvic floor exercises. There are daily exercises women can do to strengthen the pelvic floor, such as Kegel exercises. Other exercises that target the pelvic floor can be discussed with a doctor or a physical therapist. Any exercise that works with the core muscles, such as Yoga and Pilates, also help to exercise, support and nourish pelvic muscles and tissues.
- Pelvic physical therapy. There are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic health. They can work with women to develop an exercise program that will promote pelvic health. Also, they can observe women’s posture and make recommendations, as healthy posture has been linked to a healthy pelvis.
- Pelvic massage. When the organs in the pelvis have shifted out of alignment, pelvic massage can be helpful in realigning them, as well as increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. When used in conjunction with other forms of physiotherapy, pelvic massage can be helpful in treating the symptoms of POP.
In addition to physiotherapy, women should strive to eat a well-balanced diet and lose excessive weight. Quitting unhealthy habits, such as smoking, can also help to reduce the symptoms of POP. Physiotherapy offers a non-invasive way to keep pelvic muscles strong, and can prevent women from having to consider high-risk alternative treatments such as transvaginal mesh surgeries. Vaginal mesh has lead to many women suffering from organ perforation, mesh erosion, and severe pelvic pain. Hundreds of vaginal mesh lawsuits are pending due to this. Women should always discuss the full range of treatment options with their doctor.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.