For many women, pregnancy is a time to marvel at the wonders of the human body. Yet there can be some residual damage in the form of pelvic prolapse. It’s not life-threatening, but it can be painful and disrupt your daily life.
Board-certified OB/GYN John Macey, MD is a prolapse specialist and offers education and support for pelvic prolapse after you’ve given birth.
Prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that support your pelvic region weaken and stretch under the pressure of pregnancy and childbirth to the point that your pelvic organs protrude into your vaginal canal.
Think of your pelvic muscles like a hammock that cradles your uterus, bladder, urethra, and bowel. When that hammock is pulled by the pressure of pregnancy and the force of delivery, it can lose its integrity and cause the pelvic organs to slip and tilt forward.
Symptoms of postpartum pelvic prolapse
One of the most notable symptoms of postpartum prolapse is the feeling that something is bulging at the opening of your vagina. Some women describe liken it to sitting on a ball or balloon. Other signs of prolapse are:
- Vaginal pressure
- Pain during sex
- Pressure in your rectum or vagina
- Pelvic pain
- Inability to empty your bowel or bladder
- Low backache that improves when you lay down
- Distended abdomen
What causes prolapse after giving birth?
The surge of hormones in your body during pregnancy make the tissues in your pelvis softer and more pliable. As your growing baby gains weight in preparation for birth, the pelvic floor muscles work harder to support the increasing weight. This strain along with the stretching and pushing of childbirth can make your organs shift and sag into the vaginal canal.
Is postpartum prolapse normal?
According to one study, around 35% of women who have recently given birth suffer from symptoms of prolapse. However, there are other causes like family history, obesity, and medical conditions. While prolapse is more common for women who’ve given birth than those who haven’t, that doesn’t mean it’s destined to happen. If you’re dealing with prolapse, you can rest assured that it’s common and there are treatment options available.
Treatment for prolapse after giving birth
Fortunately for many, prolapse can self-correct over time. If your prolapse is mild, lifestyle interventions like losing weight, Kegel exercises, and hormone treatments, may be effective.
Depending on which organ is affected, your age, and whether you still plan to have children, Dr. Macey customizes a plan for you that may include:
- Physical therapy: specific pelvic exercises and therapy can be remarkably helpful in restoring strength and function to your pelvic muscles.
- A pessary: a silicone device that provides additional support to hold the prolapsed organ in place. While they don’t resolve a prolapse, they can make you more comfortable so you can return to your regular activities.
- Surgery: During an outpatient procedure, Dr. Macey places a mesh sling to help brace the prolapsed organ.
For comprehensive prolapse support, call the office or use the online scheduling option.