What is a pelvic organ prolapse?

So let’s get into detail a little more. What is a prolapse?

A pelvic organ prolapse is when the bladder – or any other pelvic organ (for example the uterus, cervix or bowel) has dropped down from its normal position and bulges into the vagina. I can happen when the supporting muscles (the pelvic floor) get damaged, weakened or stretched due to for example pregnancy and childbirth. The symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness – as if things are about to ‘fall out’, a bulging sensation, pulling, aching or pressure in the lower abdomen and pelvis, urinary incontinence or disturbed bowel movement, problems inserting tampons or applicators, sexual difficulties, lower back pain….

The risk of getting a prolapse increases with age, if you are overweight, if you have a job requiring lots of standing and lifting heavy, family history of prolapse, chronic cough and finally of course pregnancy and childbirth and especially prolonged and/or assisted labour.

I tick a few of the above boxes. Several women in my family have a prolapse, my labour was very long and ended with a forceps delivery. I also suspect that all the running I have done in my life may have brought me towards the ‘risk zone’. Especially training for steeplechase, which puts even more pressure on the pelvic floor as it is high impact. A lot of my sessions the last few years of training involved running over hurdles, i.e. jumping whilst running. I look back at it now and understand that even if I really enjoyed that kind of training, it probably didn’t do very good for my body.

Could I have avoided getting a prolapse? If I hadn’t run throughout my life and potentially put myself at a greater risk..?

Well, this I will never know.

My gut feeling says I would still have got the prolapse due to the complicated birth. Maybe less, maybe the same? But had I not been a runner it would probably not have affected my life as much. I have a feeling I would have come to terms with it easier if I only had to get back to live my everyday life. But that discussion is pointless.  It doesn’t matter if the running contributed to me getting a pelvic organ prolapse. Had I never been a runner I would have missed out on so much – and if I will never get back to where I used to be at least I have the running experiences, memories (and a few achievements!) in my backpack.

If you are interested in finding out more about different types of prolapses and treatment options I recommend visiting for example:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Prolapse-of-the-uterus/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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