Having a Pelvic Organ Prolapse and not knowing what tools are at our disposal can be extremely disempowering. When we know what we can do today to begin to shift things, we are better informed, and when we have a plan of action: things get easier. Here are my recommendations, step by step of what to do when you discover you have a pelvic organ prolpase and how heal your prolapse.
- 1.Reduce Intra Abdominal Pressure: Breathing Mechanics Matter
A key piece in resolving pelvic floor dysfunction is breathing mechanics. I spend a lot of time with clients and in the Restore Your Core program teaching breathing mechanics because how we breathe can make a huge impact on the integrity of our pelvic floor. Without realizing it, a lot of us are what is known as belly breathers: when we inhale, our bellies inflate. If you were to fill an oval-shaped water balloon and squeeze the top, what would happen? The bottom would bulge.
When we belly breathe, we bulge and the bulge happens in our core and pelvic floor and we place an excessive amount of strain and downward pressure on the muscles and organs. Our pelvic floor is not designed to handle that level of stress and pressure with each breath. A much better scenario for our pelvic floor would be to utilize ribs when breathe. Meaning that as we inhale, our ribs expand (see below for video demo) and there would be a slight moving of the belly at the end of the inhale.
3-dimensional rib breathing as you will learn about in the video below does not place excessive pressure on our pelvic floor and in fact it allows our core and pelvic floor to be more responsive to the demands of daily life. The pelvic floor is connected to the function of our core, so when we are looking at resolving a pelvic floor issue we are essentially talking about a core issue as well. Belly breathing is not only hard on the pelvic floor but it can also make having a functional core very difficult.
Here is a video I made discussing the connection between belly breathing and pelvic floor/ core issues and how to begin to re-train your breath.
- 2.Reduce Intra Abdominal Pressure: Alignment Matters
How we use our bodies on a daily basis can affect the health of our pelvic floor as well as our joints, muscles, and bones. When I work with clients with pelvic organ prolapse, we always ensure that integrity in their pelvic alignment. What many of us do in our standing posture, without realizing it, is push our hips forward. That shift forward affects the muscles of the pelvic floor, and to restore integrity to our pelvic floor, we must ensure that our muscles are at a mechanical advantage. Hip thrusting is a mechanical disadvantage.
In this video I discuss pelvic alignment as it related to back pain HOWEVER the same concepts apply to pelvic organ prolapse. Remember that years of standing in one way does affect your muscles and your muscles usually hold you in your current alignment so shifting how you stand will likely feel very awkward and strange at first. If it feels hard at first, know that it does change with time and practice.
- 3.Get to Know Your Pelvic Floor
With pelvic organ prolapse, the imbalances of the pelvic floor muscles are usually hard to feel and perceive. It is made worse by the incessant and misguided advice to “do your kegels” which can make things tighter and harder to feel. One of the keys in the process of healing is awareness. When we are aware of what a structure is or is not doing, we can begin to resolve it. When we are blind to it, we are often just continuing in habit mode and running along the same motor program. However if we want things to shift in our pelvic floor, we need to also shift the habit mode of our muscles. In the case of our pelvic floors and pelvic organ prolapse, there tends to be much confusion. Is my pelvic floor too tight? Not tight enough? How can I tell the resting tension? How can I fix it?
Before we set out to resolve/fix our pelvic floor dysfunction we need to first “know” our pelvic floor. Know what engaging it feels like, what releasing it feels like, and how to control both contracting and releasing it. Only then we can discern what our tendencies are and create new movement patterns and choices.
I made this audio experience to give you the tools you need to become familiar with your pelvic floor. This exercise is very different from a kegel in that the end goal is not about the contraction but about the ability to control the muscles of our pelvic floor. Many women struggle at first and find that they have little to no control over the muscles. Over time and with regular practice, this often changes. If not, I do recommend seeing a women’s health Physical Therapist who will be able to do an internal exam and give you feedback.
Know Your Pelvic Floor Audio
- 4.Restore Your Pelvic Floor and Core: Exercises
Now that you are better versed in breathing, alignment and your pelvic floor, you want to begin to do exercises that support strengthening your pelvic floor, core and whole body. As you know by now, those go way beyond kegels. My 13 Week Program: Restore Your Core offers step by step approach to strengthening your pelvic floor and whole body. If you are not ready to dive into a whole program just yet, here is a video of 5 exercises that are wonderful to get you started. You can also visit my YouTube page for many more videos.
In summary, there is a lot you can do right now to begin the healing process. In addition to the videos I mentioned above, here a video summary of these topics. In the video I demonstrate key concepts to these steps so be sure to watch it. Having concrete tools, honing in on your habits, your breathing, your alignment and doing exercises to help your pelvic floor be functional are all keys to success for healing a pelvic organ prolapse. While there are no overnight success stories, there are many many success stories of women like you who have healed their pelvic organ prolapse by taking these steps slowly and surely.