Pregnancy and childbirth cause all kinds of temporary and lasting changes to our body.
One side effect you may notice in the weeks or months after birth is a sense of a heavy or dragging feeling in your vagina.
This could actually be what’s known as a vaginal prolapse.
What is a Vaginal Prolapse?
Its where the bladder, uterus and or bowel protrude into the vagina.
The biggest cause of a prolapse is in fact pregnancy – if you had a particularly heavy baby or multiples and childbirth – if you had to push for a particularly long time.
It is common?
Almost 50% of women who have been pregnant will experience some sort of prolapse.
What Causes It?
During pregnancy the pelvic floor is weakened (cue- pelvic floor exercises while you’re reading this mama) thanks to the extra weight and hormonal changes.
You are more likely to experience vaginal prolapse if:
a) You are overweight or put on too much weight during your pregnancy.
b) Family history of prolapse vagina.
c) You have constipation regularly and need to push hard to pass a stool.
d) You have fibroids or a pelvic tumour.
e) You’ve had a prolapsed vagina in previous pregnancies.
f) You had a large baby or multiples.
What are the signs to look out for?
Many women don’t notice their prolapsed vagina if it has only moved a small amount or is soon after the birth of their child and everything is still healing down there.
If your prolapse has moved further down signals you may notice include:
a) A feeling or sense of a heavy vagina. Downward pressure as if it was “falling out” or dragging.
b) Notice a lump. This can be inside or poking out of your vagina.
c) Experience regular aching pain in your pelvic region
d) Have difficulties when going to the bathroom to urinate or pass a stool. You may need to urinate quite frequently.
e) Have a persistent or recurring UTI.
f) Experience pain or discomfort during sex
How can I get this diagnosed?
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist women’s physiotherapist or a urogynaecologists – someone who specialises in pelvic floor issues.
The treatment you receive will depend greatly on:
- Which organ has moved ( bladder, uterus and or bowel – type of prolapse) and how far (stage of prolapse)
- Your age, medical history and current health conditions
- If you are considering having more children.
Some of the treatment options include:
This can include losing weight, quitting smoking, less heavy lifting.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
A physio can develop a specific set of pelvic floor exercises you can do, aimed at fixing your prolapse.
A Pessary Insertion
This is a small silicon support thats placed inside the vagina to help hold up the prolapsed organ. These will not fix the prolapse but they may help reduce the symptoms of your prolapse and help you live more comfortably.
There are several types of prolapse surgery and all are aimed at fixing the prolapse and helping to avoid it happening again. However its important to not that some of these will mean you will no longer be able to have more children.
Staying healthy, active and hydrated will help in the long term prevention of developing a prolapsed vagina or worsening its condition.
Staying active pre or post natal will help in ensuring you don’t put on too much extra weight and staying hydrated will help keep your bowels moving and prevent constipation.
We recommend our PURITEA digestive support blend as lovely daily addition to help keep you on healthy, hydrated and constipation at bay. Especially helpful following a caesarean birth or drug assisted birth which can play havoc with your digestive function.