Muscle & Fitness Hers

How to Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Make sure your pelvic floor is as strong as the rest of you.

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The Pelvic-Floor Problem
yuji kotan/getty images

I first knew something was wrong during a CrossFit workout about six months after I’d given birth to my first son. I was doing back squats and felt some unusual pressure down there—like something was about to fall out. I finished my workout, ignored the discomfort and then continued to ignore it each time I exercised, thinking I’d simply gone too hard, too soon after pregnancy. But after a couple of months, I finally worked up the courage to see my ob-gyn. 

MY DIAGNOSIS

At age 33, I had Grade 2 Pelvic Organ Prolapse. “Your pelvic floor is made of several muscles, and like any muscle, these can stretch to the point of injury,” explains Dudley Brown Jr., M.D., an obstetrician- gynecologist in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. “The problem occurs when the muscles and ligaments that hold up your internal pelvic organs abnormally stretch and/or tear,” he says. 

THE RESULT

Your organs (including the bladder, uterus, rectum, and intestines) may drop down, putting pressure on the walls and floor of the vagina. “If the injury progresses, these muscles can no longer help contain the organs. This is when prolapse occurs,” says Brown. Prolapse can create issues ranging from a relatively mild level of Grade 1 (ligaments slightly stretched; pelvic organs slightly out of place) to Grade 2 (pelvic organs are near the vaginal opening), Grade 3 (part of one or more of the organs is protruding out of the vagina), or Grade 4 (one or more pelvic organs has fallen out of the vagina). 

It’s also more common than you may think, with up to 30% of women living with the condition. Risk factors include vaginal birth, obesity, chronic constipation, hysterectomy, and a family history, but repetitive heavy lifting may also cause problems for some. 

SEE ALSO: When Should You Return From an Injury? 

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