The pelvic floor supports organs like the uterus, bladder, and rectum. When the pelvic floor is weakened, these organs may put great stress on the pelvic muscles and then burst through them. The bulge that appears in the vaginal canal is called a prolapse- an organ pushing through the pelvic floor.
Symptoms of A Prolapse
A prolapse can be as little as a pea or in some cases large enough to appear even outside the vagina.
The following may be signs of a vaginal prolapse:
- Presence of a bulge or fleshy object in your vagina
- Heaviness and feeling a drag in your pelvic region
- Urine leakage
- Feeling a constant pain in the lower back
- Inability to stand for an extended period of time
- Pain when lying down
- Reduced sexual arousal and pain during sex
Also your partner may notice a fleshy bulge during intercourse, this is usually a prolapse.
Causes of Prolapse
Although natural aging can leave you at the risk of a vaginal prolapse, the following are some of the major causes:
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
The stress the developing fetus places on the pelvic floor can be enough to weaken it. The child may also be resting on the organs that eventually push through the pelvic floor. Also, during labor, the pelvic region undergoes a lot of stress and trauma, possibly leading to hernias and prolapses.
- Chronic Coughing
Female smokers are at a higher risk of vaginal prolapse. The intense coughing bouts places a great strain on the pelvic floor, eventually weakening it.
Menopause triggers a reduction in the body’s estrogen levels. Estrogen is necessary for the maintenance of pelvic strength and tone. With menopause, the pelvic muscles start to weaken.
The excess weight presses against the pelvic floor and can push the pelvic organs through the same.
- Constipation and Lifting Heavy Objects
Constantly straining while in the toilet can lead to an hernia and vaginal prolapse. The same effect is seen when lifting heavy objects, your abdominal and pelvic muscles have to work overtime to support the weight.
Treating A Prolapse
A prolapse can be treated and managed adequately, using one of the following treatment plans.
Kegels can help prevent and also reduce the appearance of existing prolapses. Kegels tighten the muscles in the pelvic floor and help hold the organs in place, reducing the chances of them pushing through.
With Kegels, the symptoms of a prolapse will reduce significantly. Urinary incontinence should become rare, and improved sexual arousal is also experienced. Kegels can also eliminate the pain that is triggered by a prolapse.
To perform Kegel exercises, first you have to identify your pubococcygeus (PC) muscle. Do this by trying to hold your flow of urine, the muscle that is contracted is the PC muscle.
You can find the PC muscle by inserting two fingers into your vagina and tightening your vaginal muscles around them.
After locating the muscles, you should now begin the Kegel exercises. They are to be done consistently over a long period of time, for best results.
- Squeeze the PC muscles for 5 seconds
- Relax them for another 5 seconds
- Alternate between squeezing and relaxing ten times.
- Perform this exercise 10-15 times daily
- Breathe normally during Kegels to prevent tightening your abdominal muscles.
You can use props like Kegel balls, Kegel cones and biofeedback therapy to ensure you are performing the Kegel exercises correctly and effectively.
- Vaginal Creams
A topical cream that contains estrogen can be applied in the vaginal area to boost the body’s supply of the hormone. Estrogen can strengthen the pelvic tissues and muscles, providing greater support for to pelvic organs in the process.
- Using A Pessary
A pessary is usually supplied by a trained specialist. It is a small ring-like device that is inserted into the vaginal canal to provide added support for the uterus and bladder, stopping them from pushing into the vagina.
A pessary reduces the discomfort and bladder control issues a prolapse. Women looking to get a pessary fitted can see a trained urologist or get a reference from their doctors.
This is usually used as a last resort. The prolapsed organs are fitted back into place, and further support is inserted into the pelvic region to prevent a reoccurrence of such incidences.