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POP what oh what is it..... and what do I do about it?

Pelvic organ prolapse or POP……

What oh what is it?

How do you know if you have POP?

What do you do if you think you have POP?

POP or pelvic organ prolapse is scarily common (some studies say up to 50% of women who have given birth have some degree of POP - ahhhh!) but not really talked about. Well it definitely felt that way when it happened to me! It felt like my bits where falling apart and I was the only one that this had ever happened to. Since then I have discovered that this is sooo not the case and the more we talk about it the more we can support each other to live the fullest lives we can despite of our organs trying to escape our body!

Disclaimer - this is my words and in no way, shape or form medical advice. Just me sharing a little of what I have learnt along the bumping road of navigating life with POP.

What oh what is POP?

POP (pelvic organ prolapse) is when your organs (think uterus, bladder or bowel) descend lower into or even out of your vagina. Fun stuff!

When I first had my prolapse (did not know what it was at that stage) I literally text my friend to say, “it feels like my insides are trying to become my outsides”.

POP can be caused by lots of different things. Pregnancy and birth are common culprits but it can also happen to women that have not had children, men and teenagers.

Think of your organs like string puppets. They are held up from above by ligaments or fascia. For whatever reason these ligaments or fascia get stretched or damaged and the organs sit lower than they should. Then below (and around but let's not get too complicated) you have your pelvic floor muscles. These act as support for your organs as well (well they should!). In my case I had damaged ligaments/fascia from the top and a pelvic floor as strong as a limp lettuce leaf as support from the bottom. Not a good combination! (Side note it is not always about having a pelvic floor that needs strengthening - quite often the muscles are overactive and need to learn to relax to do the job they are designed to do effectively).

Basically POP is when your organs head south into or out of your vagina due to their supporting ligaments and muscles being damaged or compromised in some way. Sexy stuff - but the story does not end there! There is sooooo much you can do to help improve your situation and reduce your symptoms.

How do you know if you have POP?

Women have so many different experiences when it comes to POP. For me it literally felt like my insides were trying to become my outsides. You can experience a bulging sensation, dragging feeling, or can actually feel something where there used to be nothing. Pressure downstairs or extra “fun” when going the toilet or having sexy times is also really common. Leaking, pelvic pain, lower back pain… The list goes on. The symptoms are different for everybody. Some people have very little symptoms at all whilst others have debilitating symptoms.

What do you do if you think you have POP?

First things first - take a breath - you are ok and you are not alone x.

You have a few options (I personally did all 4!)

1. You can either head to your GP. Word of warning here - GP’s are awesome but they do not necessarily specialise in this area - so if you go to your GP and they say everything is fine or “normal” and you don’t feel it is then please keep looking until you find a medical professional that specializes in pelvic health.

2. Book an appointment with your local women’s health or pelvic physio. In my opinion EVERY women should see a women’s health physio especially if you are experiencing any symptoms or things just don’t feel right! When you find a good physio they are worth their weight in gold. They specialise in women’s health and anything to do with your pelvic region (yep a physio for your bits).

3. Book an appointment with your local gynaecologist. They can assess what you have going on and come up with an action plan. Talk through your options, refer you to a physio, fit you with a pessary etc etc.

4. If you like to exercise (or even if you don’t ;)) find a good trainer that understands prolapse. You want to be fit and strong! The stronger you are the easier life is. You want to build your fitness in a slow controlled way that takes into account where your body is at now (including your bits) and progress in a way that your future self will thank you for. I personally do not think prolapse is a life sentence to, “light and low impact” BUT I definitely think you need to progressively work back up to doing what you love (just like you would when recovering from any injury). So much to this but that’s a whole other novel :).

We have some AMAZING health professionals in this area that can literally help change your daily reality. As with any person you reach out to, not all will be a fit for you. Please do not be disheartened if the first person you connect with does not fit for you, keep looking until you find a team that you feel comfortable with and get the lifestyle you want to live. I personally have tried a few before finding the right team for me :).

POP or pelvic organ prolapse can be really scary and you can feel very alone left to navigate the emotional rollercoaster all on your own. From me to you - you are not alone x. With the right team in your corner you will get through this - perhaps even stronger than before. Yep POP sucks but life with POP doesn't have to.

Lou x


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