Childbirth and Pelvic Organ Prolapse

31 October 2012 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

Hello, friends of midwives! Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth Carrollton of drugwatch.com. She is writing about an issue — pelvic organ prolapse — that is very important for childbearing women.

Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Fortunately, POP is completely avoidable and/or manageable with a focus on pelvic health and pelvic muscle strength. In best case scenarios, women would focus on their pelvic health before they ever become pregnant; however, it is never too late to prevent or mitigate the symptoms of POP.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which the connective tissues and muscles in the pelvic region become so weak that pelvic organs begin to shift out of place. Pregnancy and childbirth are the most prevalent factors for developing POP because these processes stretch pelvic tissues and muscles far beyond their normal size and shape. While pelvic tissues are designed to return to their normal size and shape, they can remain weakened and slightly stretched. There are other factors which can contribute to POP including:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Previous pelvic injury
  • Hysterectomy

When any of these risk factors are combined, it presents additional strain on pelvic tissues and can cause increased prolapse symptoms.

Natural Methods for Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse can usually be prevented with proper focus on overall health, as well as pelvic tissue strength and tone.

Preventing POP prior to pregnancy

Women who are trying to get pregnant can give themselves a head start on pelvic health by maintaining a healthy weight, quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking, and doing exercises which are known to improve abdominal and pelvic muscle tone. Kegel exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the upper vagina, urethra, and pelvic floor. It is a good idea to do them daily because the stronger the muscles are prior to pregnancy, the more they will be able to support ensuing changes. Yoga and Pilates are also good exercises as they focus on core strength, which can provide further support to pelvic muscles.

Preventing POP during pregnancy

Most women are familiar with pregnancy-related incontinence. As the uterus grows, the baby gains more weight, and a tremendous pressure is placed on the bladder and urethra. Research has shown that daily Kegel exercises can make a significant difference in preventing incontinence which routinely accompanies the third trimester. It also helps women get into the habit of pelvic floor exercises which should be continued through the postpartum period.

Preventing POP after pregnancy

For women who have not already made a habit of pelvic floor exercises, this is the time to take action. Preventative measures can help postpartum tissues to heal faster and become stronger, which can prevent POP later on. Women should consider the following treatments:

  • Postpartum massage
  • Kegel exercises
  • Pelvic physical therapy

Why is Prevention Important?

While mild cases of POP may not require any treatment, moderate to severe cases are often treated with surgical interventions that may come with considerable health risks. One of the common surgical procedures utilizes a device called transvaginal mesh. This mesh product has been linked to severe health complications and has been the subject of multiple transvaginal mesh recalls and lawsuits. The more women work to prevent the onset of POP, the less likely they will be to require surgical intervention. Please be sure to always discuss all treatment options, as well as their side effects, with your doctor.

 

Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

 

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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