Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that affects many women, often causing discomfort and a decrease in their quality of life. This condition occurs when the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum, descend from their normal positions and push against the vaginal walls. It is like a hernia of the pelvic floor. Many people’s initial thought is to seek out surgical options. However, pelvic floor therapy has emerged as a non-invasive and effective treatment method. Let’s explore how pelvic floor therapy can treat prolapse and the evidence supporting its efficacy.
Understanding Pelvic Organ Prolapse
First we need to understand what pelvic organ prolapse is and what causes it. Prolapse can occur due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues, typically caused by factors such as childbirth, aging, chronic coughing, obesity, or genetics. As the muscles and tissues lose their strength and elasticity, the pelvic organs can begin to descend, leading to a range of symptoms, including a feeling of pressure or heaviness in the pelvic area, urinary incontinence, pain, and discomfort during intercourse.
Pelvic Floor Therapy: An Effective Non-Invasive Approach
Pelvic floor therapy, also known as pelvic floor physical therapy, is a non-surgical approach aimed at strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and improving the overall function of the pelvic area. This therapy involves a combination of exercises, manual techniques, and lifestyle modifications to address the underlying causes of pelvic organ prolapse. Here’s how pelvic floor therapy can effectively treat prolapse:
- Muscle Strengthening: Pelvic floor therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles that support the pelvic organs and the surrounding areas. Specialized exercises can help women regain control over their pelvic muscles, providing better support to the organs and reducing the symptoms of prolapse.These exercises should not only strengthen the pelvic floor but also the muscle of the core that work in synergy with the pelvic muscles.
- Education and Lifestyle Modifications: Therapists provide education on proper body mechanics, posture, and habits that decrease prolapse symptoms. Patients are guided on how to make simple lifestyle changes to alleviate pressure on the pelvic area.
- Manual Techniques: Physical therapists may use manual techniques, such as myofascial release or internal muscle manipulation, to address muscle guarding or trigger points within the pelvic floor.
Even if surgery must be performed, such as a bladder tack or sling, it is important to include pelvic physical therapy both before and after, in order to prepare the body for surgery and optimize results post-op.
The Evidence Behind Pelvic Floor Therapy
Numerous studies and clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of pelvic floor therapy in treating pelvic organ prolapse:
- A 2018 review published in the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy found that pelvic floor physical therapy was associated with significant improvements in pelvic organ prolapse symptoms, pelvic muscle strength, and overall quality of life.
- Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2016 concluded that pelvic floor therapy reduced the severity of prolapse and improved pelvic floor muscle strength in women with mild to moderate prolapse.
- A study in the International Urogynecology Journal in 2019 found that combining pelvic floor therapy with pessary use (a device to support the prolapsed organs) resulted in greater symptom improvement compared to using a pessary alone.
Pelvic organ prolapse can significantly impact a woman’s life, but surgery is not the only answer. The evidence supporting this therapy’s efficacy is substantial, with many studies demonstrating its ability to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for women with pelvic organ prolapse. If you’re ready to take the next step toward managing and improving your pelvic organ prolapse, schedule a visit with us at MOTION RX today. Don’t wait—take action today to reclaim your comfort and confidence. Your pelvic health matters!