A Pelvic Organ Prolapse is when the muscles, ligaments, and fibers supporting the pelvic floor organs (bladder, uterus, and rectum) are weakened and a protrusion of these organs into or through the vaginal opening occurs.
Often, the conversation around avoiding or treating pelvic organ prolapse is focused on supporting the organs from below by working on pelvic floor muscle strength. While this is a very important piece of the overall picture, it will not be effective if it is the only strategy employed. There are many contributing factors to consider when dealing with this hardworking system, and it deserves a more thorough approach starting from the top – with your breathing!
While it is important to support the organs from below, we don’t want too much pressure or load coming from above the pelvic organs either. This increased intra-abdominal pressure can come from holding your breath during functional activity or exercise, and can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse if not released by breath control.
One simple step to reduce intra-abdominal pressure on your pelvic organs is “Blow As You Go”. This technique involves starting to exhale before beginning a movement or transition, and continuing it throughout the exertion. This will actually release the pressure before it can build on the organs, and also cause an automatic lifting response from the pelvic floor to initiate support from below.
Being active is a crucial part of the rehabilitation process and our well-being, but it is also important to listen to your body when doing exercise and day to day activities. Avoid activities that require you to strain or hold your breath. Gradually, increase effort in your activity when you are confident with your technique and have good abdominal, pelvic floor, AND breath control. A pelvic floor therapist can help evaluate your current activity level, and suggest modifications if necessary.