How to Cope with your Pelvic Prolapse Diagnosis

Have you received a pelvic prolapse diagnosis? Pelvic prolapse diagnosis concerns

Can you talk about your prolapse concerns and fears?

Even in western society pelvic prolapse diagnosis is still at times veiled in secrecy.

Women are often left to cope alone with their prolapse fears unable to discuss their concerns even with close friends or family.

Do any of these prolapse-related concerns sound familiar to you?

  • It’s going to get worse
  • It’s my fault
  • I won’t be able to exercise
  • I’ll put on weight
  • I can’t talk about this
  • He’s going to notice
  • He’ll get turned off
  • I’m ageing before my time
  • It’s the beginning of the end …

These are just a few commonly expressed prolapse concerns.

Some women carry on regardless of their pelvic prolapse diagnosis and barely give it a second thought.

Others find the going very tough!

Unfortunately there’s a general lack of emotional support and coping strategies for women with prolapse problems.

This lack of emotional support for women with prolapse can sometimes contribute to prolapse anxiety, decreased self esteem, vulnerability and dare I say even self loathing and sometimes feelings of depression.

How to Cope with Your Prolapse Diagnosis

If you’re finding your prolapse hard going, this information is designed to help you with practical coping strategies for getting on top of your prolapse fears and concerns. One of many

1. You’re Not Alone

Take some small comfort in knowing that many other women have prolapse too.

Consider the prolapse statistics…1 in 2 women who have had a vaginal delivery will have some degree of prolapse within their lifetime i.e pelvic prolapse is a very commonly experienced problem!

2. Prolapse is NOT Life-Threatening

Pelvic prolapse is not a life-threatening condition. This fact in no way minimises the potential impact of prolapse however sometimes it can help to keep the overall severity of the pelvic prolapse condition in perspective when it comes to physical injury.

3. Understand Your Prolapse

Prolapse can seem all the more mysterious and unsettling because it’s an injury that’s not visible to the naked eye.

What is a prolapse? 

Prolapse involves a soft tissue injury. Pelvic organ prolapse

You’ve almost certainly heard of abdominal hernia. A pelvic organ prolapse involves a vaginal hernia.

A pelvic prolapse is a hernia (bulge) into the vagina.

What causes the bulge?

The bulge occurs when one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel or uterus) bulge into the vagina – often through weak vaginal walls.

The injury and weakness causing prolapse involves the tissues supporting the pelvic organs; strong connective tissues that secure the pelvic organs in their normal position and the pelvic floor muscles underneath the organs.

4. Block Unhelpful Thinking Stop sign

Do you find yourself repeatedly agonizing over your prolapse; what if it get’s worse, what if I can’t exercise ….

Repeatedly thinking about an issue embeds that pattern of thinking in our brain – a bit like hard wiring that thought.

→The first step is to notice and acknowledge that you’re thinking your prolapse.

→Then make a conscious decision not to follow through with analysing or ruminating on that thought (i.e. revisiting it over and over).

One strategy to block unhelpful thoughts is to visualise a stop signal or a sign – whatever works best for you.

Your signal to stop thinking about your prolapse may be a stop sign or red traffic lights. Someone I know uses the computer screen shut down icon (X) to block unhelpful thoughts.

Choose the stop signal that works best for you and use this when you find yourself dwelling on your prolapse.

5. Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

When you know you can block unhelpful thought about your prolapse you may be able to start to challenge unhelpful thinking with facts.

Here are 2 examples of how you might challenge unhelpful prolapse thoughts …

Unhelpful thought 1: “Now I can’t exercise and I’m going to put on weight”

Challenge 1: Women can exercise to avoid weight gain with prolapse.
Challenge 2: Women can exercise and avoid prolapse worsening.
Challenge 3: Prolapse-appropriate low impact fitness exercises are effective for weight management and weight loss.
Challenge 4: Weight management is the balance of energy in-energy out. You are in complete control of your energy intake – don’t let prolapse be an excuse for a poor prolapse diet.

Unhelpful thought 2: “My partner’s going to notice my prolapse and get turned off”

Challenge 1: So your partner’s a gynaecologist?
Challenge 2: If he is a gynaecologist he looks at prolapse all day!
On a more serious note…
Challenge 3: Most male partners cannot detect a mild to moderate prolapse during intimacy
Challenge 4: Lying down prolapse usually becomes much less noticeable
Challenge 5: Prolapse makes no difference to the physical sensations during intimacy for the male partner
Challenge 6: Your partner develops a hernia – are you turned off?
Challenge 7: Be completely honest with yourself – does your prolapse make you any less of a loving partner or woman than without a prolapse?

Here’s more information, facts and tips for prolapse sex-related concerns.

5. Worst Case Scenario

When you’ve managed to challenge some of your unhelpful thoughts you might consider worst case scenario and ask yourself whether or not you can cope with that outcome

Sample worst case scenario/will I cope?

Worst case scenario 1: Your prolapse gets worse

a. Will you cope? Yes or No

Most likely you will cope, if not what’s worst case scenario?

b. How will you cope?

Sample coping strategies: strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, stay active with pelvic floor friendly exercises, modify factors contributing to prolapse worsening (e.g. heavy lifting, constipation and straining), consult with your health practitioner, pelvic floor physiotherapy, trial a support pessary, gynaecologist assessment/review, discuss your fears with trusted support person(s)

Worst case scenario 2: Your prolapse repair fails

a. Will you cope? Yes or No

Most likely you will cope, if not what’s the worst case scenario?

b. How will you cope?

Sample coping strategies: return to your surgeon for review, strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, stay active with pelvic floor friendly exercises, modify contributing factors, pelvic floor physiotherapy, trial a support pessary, discuss your fears with trusted support person(s)

6. Take Positive Action

Positive ways to get started include:

  • Getting physically active – regular pelvic floor safe exercise will help you feel good about yourself and your body..
  • Getting socially active – social activity helps you feel supported, positive and relieves stress.
  • Educating yourself about prolapse management – education is empowerment, the more you know about your prolapse and your management alternatives the more empowered you’ll feel.
  • Accessing professional support; make an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist, see a dietician, enlist the support of a pelvic floor safe exercise provider, see a counsellor if you need coping strategies and support

Key Points for Coping with Pelvic Prolapse Diagnosis

Receiving a pelvic prolapse diagnosis and living with a prolapse is not always straight forward for all women.

Unfortunately the emotional issues related to pelvic prolapse are still often unrecognised and poorly managed even in our western culture.

Holistic prolapse management needs to recognise both the physical and emotional aspects of living with a prolapse so that more women can access emotional support and coping strategies to improve their long-term quality of life.

How do you cope with your pelvic prolapse diagnosis?

Share your coping strategies (below)


PROLAPSE EXERCISES BOOK

prolapse exercises

with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway

Learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your prolapse and reduce your risk of repeat prolapse.

Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.

READ MORE NOW

 


Comments

  1. Patricia says:

    Hi I am working with a forum and I have posted your book on there which I know one lady has already bought it. I have also posted about your newsletters. I hope this is ok, if it is can you advise how others can get in touch. One thing is that a lady on there has had a mesh inserted then taken out. She has terrible nerve pain now as there is a little left in her which couldn’t be removed. The Doctor told her just to take morphine.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Thanks Patricia! Awful situation for that poor lady to be in, the mesh removals can be tricky

  2. Hi there Patricia and Michelle,
    I love your news and info Michelle. Thank you. As a musculoskeletal Physiotherapist involved in the treatment of people (mostly women) with persistent pelvic pain, I frequently come across people who have had mesh removal surgery following varying complications. May I suggest that in addition to Women’s Health physiotherapy input, this lady may benefit from a musculoskeletal physiotherapist who can analyse contributing factors outside the pelvis (which I find frequently), as well as movement dysfunctions such as the over activity of th pelvic floor when moving into spine flexion from the base of spine upward (e.g. Return up from full flexion in standing, rather than appropriate hamstring, gluteal and abdominal contractions).
    I hope this helps.

    Warm regards

    Annemarie

  3. Great article Michelle – includes all the anxieties I have had about my prolapse and helpful ways to move forward. Thank you.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      My pleasure Lavina – I think some of the strategies work better for some. Choose those that you find most helpful for you. What I didn’t mention in this article is that these strategies sure need practice don’t they!
      All the best to you
      Michelle

  4. I myself have depression and anxiety R/T my prolapse dx. It has been a very tough road. There should be more written about this and more support. Thanks for what you do Michelle.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Mary

      Thanks so much for sharing this – yes I agree with you. Depression and/or anxiety are commonly experienced issues among women associated with prolapse diagnosis and poorly recognized let alone addressed. Sometimes basic information about the nature of prolapse (ie hernia), coping strategies and empowering women to understand how to self manage can make a world of difference to quality of life. I also believe staying active and protecting the pelvic floor is an important element in dealing with prolapse-related anxiety/depression.

      All the best Mary
      Michelle

  5. Excellent advice look forward to monthly updates.

  6. Thank you so much for the tips on how to cope with pelvic prolapse. I like the tip to look on the bright side. Things could be worse. I need to do better with looking on the bright side. It has always been hard for me to do that. Hopefully, I will be able to now.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Yes it takes practice Emily – cup half full approach can help :)
      All the best
      Michelle

  7. Does anyone have problems with incomplete emptying of the bowel? I have a retocele and a rectal prolapse and i go through hell everyday with incomplete emptying, I have to do water enemas repeatedly to empty my bowel properly. I have spoken to a surgeon about mesh surgery but she said there is a 50/50 chance of it improving my symptoms.