Your pelvic floor is composed of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that form a type of hammock that supports your bladder, rectum, and uterus. When you're pregnant, the weight of your abdomen exerts constant pressure on your pelvic floor. During a vaginal childbirth, you strain and push, and create even more pressure. This can cause your pelvic floor to weaken and sag in places. This may allow your bladder, rectum, or uterus to protrude into your vaginal canal. This is known as a pelvic floor prolapse. Here are some ways to correct the condition.
Your doctor determines the severity of your prolapse during a pelvic examination. If your condition is in the early stages and your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor. After doing them for a few months, the prolapse may correct itself, and your symptoms disappear.
The best way to learn how to do Kegel exercises is to stop your urine in mid-stream. The same muscles you contract to stop your urine flow are the ones you want to contract when you do the exercises. Try to leave the rest of your body, including your abdomen, relaxed so your pelvic floor muscles are the ones doing all the work.
Once you've found the muscles you need to contract, you'll want to do the exercises when your bladder is empty rather than while you're urinating. You can do the exercises any time or place. Work up to holding the muscle contractions for 10 seconds. Do 10 sets at a time at least three times per day. Kegel exercises can be done throughout your entire life to maintain the strength of your pelvic floor. You can even do them during your next pregnancy to help prevent another prolapse.
If your prolapse is a little more severe and it's causing problems with bowel movements, urination, or painful intercourse, your doctor may recommend a pessary. A pessary provides support for your organs to help hold them in place and stop them from protruding into your vaginal canal. They come in different shapes depending on the type of support you need. Some are similar to a diaphragm that's used for birth control. Others are shaped like a doughnut. Some have tubes attached to an air bladder so they can be inflated once they're in place.
You may need to wear a pessary all the time or just until your pelvic floor is able to recover its strength. It may be a temporary solution until you are able to undergo surgery for a permanent repair of your pelvic floor. Your doctor will tell you how often to wear the device and how often it should be removed. You may be able to remove and insert it yourself, or your doctor may have to do it depending on the type of pessary you receive.
If your pelvic floor prolapse is so severe that it blocks urine flow or causes other significant problems, your doctor may recommend surgery. With surgery, the doctor tightens loose tissue to increase the strength of your pelvic floor. The doctor may even graft artificial mesh to create additional support for your organs. The type of surgery varies depending on which of your organs is affected by the weakened area of your pelvic floor. A cystocele repairs a prolapsed bladder and a rectocele repairs a prolapsed rectum. If the prolapse affects your uterus, the doctor may perform a hysterectomy.
If you notice symptoms such as urinary incontinence, constipation, or a bulging sensation in your vagina after you have given birth, be sure to let a doctor (such as one from Women's Health Associate - Gilbert A Shamas MD) know so you can begin treatment right away. Strengthening your pelvic floor through exercise may save you from needing surgery in the future.