June is prolapse awareness month, there are a lot of blogs and articles raising awareness for prevention, so instead I want to talk about life after being diagnosed with prolapse.
When you are physically fit and you come to learn that your organs are trying to escape your body, you go through many emotions.
Women are being told that they are not able to do the things they love ever again. Heavy lifting, running, plyometric work or sports. As if that wasn't shit enough, they are then told that surgery may be there only option, after they have finished having children. For some women that may be four or six years down the track, what about the gap in between? Are we just meant to not move?
What I find really concerning is the lack of direction of what exercise we can be doing, or how to do our daily activities in a way that is effective, instead of breaking the news 'you cant do what you love anymore', dropping the mic and walking off to leaving the poor mum to figure it out on her own.
I am so passionate about life after prolapse, because you do have options, you can still be physically active, fit in a way that is really satisfying and have great quality of life!
I personally do not have a story where my prolapse has been downgraded, but that does happen for some women which is fantastic! What I do have is a better functioning pelvic floor, I have been able to rectify many of my underlying issues and my prolapse has not gotten any worse at this stage - which I see as a major win!
Here are my tips for living a fabulously fit and active life after being diagnosed with prolapse.
1. Seek out a Women's Health Physiotherapist
Initially you may require some help from a womens health physiotherapist, as there will be some other contributing factors that may need to be addressed, that will help you condition your body to move safely and effectively into exercise.
For me I had a very long history of uncomfortable sex, on and off constipation and leaking in exercise, back and hip pain all signs of a hypertonic pelvic floor. I also played numerous high impact sports all my life, ran and did high impact exercise. All of these things leading up to the birth of my daughter would have contributed to my prolapse diagnosis.
I still have regular check in appointments with my Women's Health Physiotherapist to make sure everything is still on track.
2. Ask about a pessary!
A pessary helps give those prolapsed organs some support, to help you relieve the heaviness and support you when moving in your daily life and in your exercise. Think of it like strapping your knee for exercise, but in your vagina!
I at nine weeks post the birth of my daughter asked my gyno to be fitted for a ring pessary. I had a severe heaviness in the pelvis which was emotionally feeding my thoughts that my body had betrayed me and the feeling of being broken, and if I am really honest that my husband would leave me, because I thought I would never feel comfortable having sex again. After getting fitted with my pessary I instantly I felt better, it was like the emotion was lifted at the same time my bladder was. If I had not have asked for a pessary, it wouldn't have even been given to me as an option in my appointment.
Reality was I was a movement coach and I would have to be coaching clients through movements that are not 'prolapse safe', I also wanted to keep moving myself but I wanted to be supported and know that I wasn't leaving myself open to further damage.
We have to look at this from a REAL LIFE point of view, sitting on a fit ball doing bicep curls is NOT going to help you move better, safer and efficently in your daily life. Where you are having to lift prams into cars, pick toddlers up off the ground, run after that kid that is making a beeline for the highway. See what I am saying? We have to be able to move in daily life, so why cant we train mimicking real life in a safe and effective way?
3. Remember there is not just ONE WAY to move and exercise!
Yep maybe you wont be able to do what you have always done, or how you have been doing it right now or in some cases again.
This is where we need to open up our way of thinking, there are SO many ways to move that is safe with prolapse.
I don't feel comfortable running, or doing plank type exercises. Heres the thing - I DON'T HAVE TO! There is nothing saying that I have to do those exercises in order to be fit and healthy. I have alternatives, I quickly side shuffle instead of forward running, I do moving crawl patterns for short periods of time instead of rigid plank holds, because that is what feels right for me.
There are LOTS of ways to move with prolapse.
There are ways to get intensity with out the impact!
There are ways to get the the burn, without running, jumping or lifting heavy.
I know because this is HOW I LIVE! This is what I have APPLIED to myself and clients.
Will you be able to get back to what you loved to do, yes maybe depending on your circumstances and the work you are prepared to put into it.
Will you perhaps fall in love with another way of moving? I certainly did.
There is HOPE, my god is there hope! My dream is to see prolapse be prevented as much as possible, but I also dream of women being able to see their exercise life is not ending, it is just beginning another journey.
Share this with someone who is suffering to share with them there is HOPE.
Please note :: There are cases where surgery is the ONLY option, but I would urge you to see a women's health physiotherapist before heading in for surgery to get more information on recovery and strategies for in between.