Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which your pelvic floor muscles and a specialized tissue called the fascia become loose, weakened, or torn, so that your pelvic organs drop down (i.e., prolapse) from their normal position. Pelvic prolapse can affect any of your pelvic organs, including your:
Some women are prone to pelvic prolapse because of their family history. Pregnancy and other stresses on the pelvic floor muscles can also cause pelvic prolapse.
Although pelvic organ prolapse can be treated once it develops, it can also be prevented. Our team of expert urogynecologists at Bela Vida Urogynecology in Oviedo and Kissimmee, Florida, offer the following tips to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, fascia, and other supporting tissues — so you can prevent pelvic prolapse.
Go to the pelvis gym
OK, there’s not really a special pelvis gym, but you can make pelvic floor exercises part of your daily workout to prevent pelvic prolapse. The most well-known exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles are called Kegels.
One simple Kegel exercise is flexing the muscles you’d use if you were trying to stop your urine stream (don’t do it while urinating, though, as you want to always empty your bladder fully). Hold for a count of three, relax, then repeat 10 times, several times a day. You can read more about Kegel exercises here.
In addition to the “pelvis gym,” getting regular exercise at an actual gym or through sports, dancing, or other high-movement activities helps keep your pelvic floor muscles healthy. Try pilates, yoga, and moderate weight lifting, too, to build your core strength.
Let your body do its business
Remember when your mom and the school nurse warned you not to “strain” when using the toilet? Straining during a bowel movement, or trying to “hurry” things along can cause prolapse, particularly a type called rectocele. If you develop a rectocele, your rectum or intestines drops into your vagina.
Reading a magazine or even your SmartPhone while defecating lets your intestines move your bowels gradually and naturally. Don’t try to rush or push. If you’re not into reading, do a mini meditation, or just remember to be patient and stay relaxed.
Load up on fiber and water
Whole vegetables and fruits are filled with fiber that your gut needs to create smooth and easy bowel movements. If you tend to be constipated (and strain), you’re putting unnecessary pressure on your pelvic floor. For extra healthy, smooth BMs, try adding:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and grains
Drinking plenty of water also helps your digestion. Aim for about 8-10 8-ounce glasses a day. Pass on the sweet, sugary drinks — including fruit juices — that spike your blood sugar and may cause weight gain and inflammation.
You already know you shouldn’t smoke, but preventing pelvic prolapse gives you yet another reason to quit. Smoking robs your body of oxygen, so it can’t repair weakened or older tissues. A smoker’s cough also puts pressure on your pelvis.
Being overweight or obese raises your risk for pelvic organ prolapse because the extra pounds stress your pelvic floor. If you have trouble maintaining a healthy stable weight, let us know, and we can recommend a medically supervised weight-loss program that fits your lifestyle and budget.