(Your vagina, that is!)
Prolapse. In other words, are your insides hanging outside?
Whaaaaaat? Yes, you heard me correctly – sometimes, our insides fall out. Things like pregnancy and straining can weaken the muscles and ligaments of our pelvic floor, to the point where those tissues that are designed to hold our girl parts in become compromised. Gravity, age, and the loss of estrogen contribute as well, which means that if you have a uterus, you are at risk of all hell breaking loose.
A.k.a., Uterine prolapse. Sorry, ladies.
A mild prolapse – when the uterus bulges into the vagina just a bit – probably won’t cause you any grief, nor require any treatment. However, more significant cases will let you know that something just ain’t right. Suffice it to say, if you see or feel something bulging out of your vagina, you should get that checked ASAP. Frankly, why anyone wouldn’t leaves me scratching my head.
Other signs your insides may be creeping toward the light:
- Chronic constipation
- Urine leakage or retention
- A heavy or pulling feeling in your vagina
- Chronic, dull low back pain
- A loss of tone or sexual sensation
If your doctor diagnoses a significant prolapse, s/he may prescribe:
- A pessary to try to hold things in. This looks like a diaphragm, and can do a decent job but may irritate surrounding tissues. There are surgical procedures to correct prolapse as well, but as with all surgery, it comes with risks and side effects, so this should only be considered in the most severe cases.
- Kegel exercises. These can be quite effective at preventing and managing prolapse (as if you needed yet another reason to do them!). I am doing them right now as I write this, and not even the repairman or the dog at my feet are privy to my calisthenics. Need some guidance on how-to? Check this out.
- Maintain a healthy weight via a diet that supports regular bowel movements. Simply put, more weight in your belly = more internal pressure on those delicate organs. Plus, a healthy diet full of fiber will reduce constipation, which in turn reduces straining. And that brings us to…
- Reduce straining when at all possible! A little tip for when you are lifting/coughing/pooing – exhale with every exertion, and DO NOT hold your breath! This will keep the stress in your muscles and out of your hoo-ha.
Uterine prolapse won’t kill you, but it will put a serious damper in your love life, and your day-to-day routines. If you follow the above recommendations and high-tail it to your doc at the first sign of a problem, you can manage this little gift of woman-hood without too much stress.