How to Cope with Pelvic Prolapse Diagnosis and Prolapse Worsening Fears (Physiotherapy Video)

Have you received a pelvic prolapse diagnosis or had prolapse surgery?

Are you worried about:

  • Prolapse worsening
  • Repeat prolapse after prolapse surgery
  • Your partner noticing your prolapse?

Women are often left to cope alone with their pelvic prolapse diagnosis and fears about repeat prolapse after prolapse surgery.

This Physiotherapy video helps you reduce your fears of prolapse worsening and repeat prolapse after prolapse surgery.

Common Fears with Pelvic Prolapse Diagnosis and After Prolapse Surgery

  • My prolapse is getting worse
  • I don’t want prolapse surgery
  • I won’t be able to exercise and I’ll gain weight
  • I can’t talk to anyone about my prolapse
  • My partner is going to notice
  • My partner will no longer find me attractive
  • I’m ageing before my time
  • I’m worried I’ll need repeat prolapse surgery

These are just a few commonly expressed pelvic prolapse diagnosis and prolapse surgery concerns.

Some women carry on regardless of their pelvic prolapse diagnosis and after surgery, barely giving this a second thought. Others find coping with a prolapse diagnosis difficult indeed.

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 even self loathing and feelings of depression.

How to Cope with Your Pelvic Prolapse Diagnosis and Fear of Prolapse Worsening

This information helps you with practical coping strategies for getting on top of your prolapse fears and concerns. Prolapse isolation

1. You’re Not Alone

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

Almost 1 in 2 women who have had a vaginal delivery will have some degree of prolapse within their lifetime ¹. This means that 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 diagnosis or prolapse surgery however sometimes it can help to keep the overall severity of the pelvic prolapse condition in perspective.

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 prolapse bulge?

Prolapse bulge occurs when one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel or uterus) move out of position – 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 supporting the pelvic organs.

4. Block Unhelpful Prolapse ThoughtsPelvic prolapse diagnosis concerns

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

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

Step 1: The first step is to notice and acknowledge that you’re thinking about your prolapse.

Step 2: 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 or whatever works best for you.

Your signal to stop thinking about your prolapse may be a stop sign or red traffic lights. For example, imagine a computer screen shut down icon (X) to block unhelpful prolapse fears.

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

5. Challenge your Prolapse Worsening Fears

When you know you can block unhelpful thoughts about your prolapse, you can to start to challenge unhelpful thinking with real facts.

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

Prolapse Fear #1: “Now I can’t exercise and I’m going to put on weight”

Prolapse Fear #2: “My partner’s going to notice my prolapse and our relationship will suffer”

  • Most partners can’t detect a mild to moderate prolapse during intimacy
  • Lying down prolapse usually becomes much less noticeable
  • Prolapse makes no difference to the physical sensations during intimacy for the male partner
  • Your partner develops an abdominal hernia – are you turned off?
  • Be completely honest with yourself and ask yourself, does your prolapse make you any less of a loving partner or woman?

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

5. Worst Case Prolapse Scenario

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

Common Prolapse Diagnosis Fears

Scenario 1: Your prolapse worsens or returns after prolapse surgery

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

  • Kegel exercises to 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),
  • Lose excess abdominal fat
  • Consult with your doctor, pelvic floor physiotherapist, trial a support pessary, gynaecologist assessment/review, discuss your fears with trusted support person(s).

Scenario 2: Your prolapse repair fails requiring further prolapse surgery

a. Will you cope – Yes or No?

It’s most likely that you will cope and if not, what’s the worst case scenario?

b. How will you cope?

Sample coping strategies

  • Return to your gynecologist for review
  • Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
  • Stay active with pelvic floor friendly exercises
  • Modify your risk factors e.g. lose weight if you need to
  • Pelvic floor physiotherapy
  • Trial a support pessary
  • Discuss your fears with trusted support person(s).

Worst case scenario might be that you require prolapse surgery.

6. Take Positive Action

Positive ways to get started after receiving a pelvic prolpase diagnosis include:

  • Getting physically active because regular pelvic floor safe exercise will help you feel good about yourself and your body.
  • Staying socially active because social activity helps you feel supported, positive and relieves stress.
  • Educating yourself about prolapse management because education is empowering. The more you know about your prolapse and your management alternatives the more empowered you’ll feel.
  • Accessing professional support by making 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 and Prolapse Anxiety

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 diagnosis and after prolapse surgery are still often unrecognised and poorly managed.

Holistic prolapse treatment and management addresses the physical and emotional aspects of living with a prolapse.

Emotional support and coping strategies can improve your long-term quality of life when living with prolapse diagnosis and after prolapse surgery.

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

References

  1. Slieker-ten Hove M C P1 , Vierhout M2 , Bloembergen H3 , Schoenmaker G4 1. Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Gynecology, 2. University Medical Center Nijmegen, 3. Erasmus Medical Center, Medical Faculty, 4. General Practitioners group Brielle, NL ICS (2004) Paris DISTRIBUTION OF PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE (POP) IN THE GENERAL POPULATION; PREVALENCE, SEVERITY, ETIOLOGY AND RELATION WITH THE FUNCTION OF THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES. https://www.ics.org/abstracts/publish/42/000004.pdf
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Comments

  1. Are the exercises in the book for only women who have had surgery to repair their prolapse or are the exercises also for women who have an existing prolapse but don’t want to have surgery?
    Thank you,
    Michelle

  2. I know this is a old article but I felt the want to comment.
    I just turned 31 years old. I am a mother to 4 beautiful boys aged between 4 months and 9 years.
    I have always done my pelvic floor exercises, tried to keep on top of self care ect but as a mother, quite often I put my needs aside for my family. I feel like I often put my own needs last. It’s just a part of being a mother right?..
    I was finished having kids after my 3rd baby but had a “surprise” 4th who I welcomed eagerly into our family. Who would have thought that this pregnancy/birth would have been so physically taxing on my body and emotional health compared to my other children.
    All of my 4 births were vaginal births.
    My last baby was quite large.
    We had growth scans throughout the pregnancy and it was obvious that he was a large baby. (1/3rd the size LARGER then any of my other children).
    Time and time again I brought this up at my midwife appointments and was told that I’d be fine. Never was I given the option of a c section or had my concerns addressed.
    I had my baby and then within about 3 weeks of the birth I noticed that something didn’t feel right with my vagina.
    My vagina had a large lump in it. I felt like I couldn’t completely empty my bladder, I always had the urge to pee, I had bowel issues, a general heavy feeling in my pelvis and abdomen.. back aches..
    I had to beg to get a referral to a gyno from a gp.
    I finally got one. I waited a month for my appointment. The gyno checked me out and diagnosed me with a stage 1 uterus prolapse (cervix dropped 3cm into my vagina), stage 1 bowel prolapsing into my back vaginal wall, stage 3 bladder collapsing the front wall of my vagina.

    I felt and still feel awful.

    I made it clear that I wanted this fixed. Happy to try pelvic floor physio to see if it helped but wanted to know that surgery was a option if all else failed. Nope. I was told no to surgery, I should just be grateful for my kids. Think positively ect ect..
    I was told to come back in 4 months if still uncomfortable and she would fit me with a pessary.
    Every day is hard on me. I feel like I wake up with a prolapse, take a prolapse every where with me all day and then go to bed with a prolapse.
    I burst out crying all the time as it bothers me so much.
    I feel broken, defective, unattractive, dirty.
    I have to put my fingers inside my vagina to help bowel movements and bladder emptying. I’m always running to the toilet. I’m losing weight to try to help. I’m seeing a pelvic floor physio, I’m doing my pelvic floor exercises multiple times per day yet everything just feels worse.
    I’m not intimate with my partner anymore. We used to be intimate almost daily. It hurts to have sex now, it tears at the bladder bulge and the bulge presses on his penis and hurts him when he pulls out of me.

    I’m getting a second opinion in a few weeks (earliest appointment possible) but I feel like I’ll just get sent away again.
    I don’t want a pessary.
    I want the surgery. I want a lasting solution.
    I don’t want anymore kids.

    Like one of the other comments above, I wish I had c sections. I’d be healed by now. I feel like I’m stuck recovering from the birth. I just want to fix this so I can move forward with life and enjoy my partner and kids again. I’m happy for other women who get enough relief from Pessaries and physio. I wish I felt the same but I don’t. I just need to find a surgeon who will help me.

    There’s not enough consideration towards the emotional impact that “pop” can have on some women.

  3. Thank you for the uplifting article; I am a prolapse veteran (third op has failed) and have found that in medical care the psychological aspects are completely overlooked.
    When I feel anxious and upset about my condition, I ask myself if I am actually feeling physical pain. Usually it’s more a case of physical discomfort which is more tolerable. It’s helped me realise that most of the distress of my prolapse is emotional pain. That’s helpful because I can think more positively (or try!).

  4. I notice on all sites I read it talks about “will my partner notice?” But nobody talks about the fact that at this point I don’t feel like having intercourse. I have so many health issues and now this. How do I feel normal and want to have intercourse with my husband when this is causing urine leakage, discomfort etc. Seriously not one site has discussed me feeling cometsble with sex. So frustrating. I don’t feel sexy. I feel deformed.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Great point Julie and I think this is a common experience among many women with prolapse issues. Thanks so much for taking the time to make this point which will surely ring true with other women, all the best!

  5. Hi,

    I’m five months postpartum with my first child. Before I was pregnant, I was quite active into the gym and did high intensity interval training, jumping, weightlifting and running on a near daily basis. I also coach a girls soccer team and played recreationally. I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectocele and stage 2 cystocele about 4 weeks postpartum. Since then, I’ve been doing kegels and other strengthening exercises but have only seen slight improvements. I’m sad almost everyday about my prolapse to the point that my husband is losing patience with my complaining and depression. I feel like I’ll never have my old weightlifting body back. I’ll never be able to play soccer again. I know how hard I had to work to achieve my pre-pregnancy body and feel like the limitations of prolapse will never allow me to get there again. No squats, no burpees, no running… Some people might feel happy that they never have to do another one of those exercises again. But, I feel incredibly sad. I am not overweight and I am young, only 34. My whole lifestyle is changed and I can’t get over it. I thought I’d be healed by now, and I’m losing hope that I’ll ever feel happy again. What can I do?

    • I am experiencing this exact thing. Now that it’s 2 years later…Please tell me there is hope. ?

      • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

        Jillian there is always hope when it comes to prolapse management. The best thing to do immediately is to see an experienced Pelvic Floor Physio. She will be able to help you move forward, address factors that may have contributed to the prolapse, help you improve your pelvic floor support and know how to manage long-term. Please know that you’re not alone in dealing with this I hope this brings you some comfort and direction forward Michelle

    • This what Jessica said. I totally completely agree. For those not previously very active it’s not a monumental life changer. It’s horrible for them for sure but not as difficult for those that loose all the activities they love. For those very active with active jobs that involve standing lifting bending squatting it’s just a total life destroyer. I need to find a new job and have no clue where to go at 38. I had a baby but am left a damaged shell that can’t be the mom I want. I now know why so many women stand on the beach fully dressed never swimming, why they don’t run around with their kids on the playground. I understand the moms now just watching the family never joining the activities. And yes it’s not just about how our partners feel about sex the discussion needs to involve how we feel. I feel disgusting and unlovable. I wonder how many marriages this destroys. I realize the point of this website is trying to be positive and look on the bright side but there is none. This mess may not kill me but it does make my life so much less enjoyable. I don’t think I’ll ever find happiness again. Life is just a chore I do now for my baby. I’m so angry. Why was I not told this was a huge risk of vaginal birth?!?! I want to tell every pregnant woman I see don’t push a baby out of your vagina. It’s not worth the risk. Have a csection. If I’d had a csection I’d be whole still. I’d be the mom I should be. My marriage wouldn’t be a mess and I’d actually have an intimate relationship with my husband. If a first time pregnant women stumbles across this post do yourself a favor find the best csection happy OBGYN you can! Run from midwives and natural birth.

  6. Sorry , this is not about the rectal prolapse the poor previous person is speaking of, but I am not sure how to post new comments.
    The prolapse has made a massive impact on my life as a farmer. I have in the past been extremely active. Now I can’t do many of the jobs involving lifting, walking, long periods of standing. I also can’t go tramping anymore ( which involved carrying more than 10kg) which was one of my major recreational activities. I am also worried that if I put in a pessary I won’t be able to horse ride. How do really active people deal with it?

  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.

  8. 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.

  9. Excellent advice look forward to monthly updates.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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.