Pelvic Support Treatment
Treatment for pelvic organ prolapse depends on the severity of the symptoms. Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the pressure on the pelvic area and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in fiber, and quitting smoking (to reduce lung disease and/or chronic coughing). Women with pelvic organ prolapse should avoid lifting heavy objects.
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises
Kegel exercises, which strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, are an important part of treatment for any pelvic support problem.
How to do Kegel exercises
- Tighten the muscles that stop the flow of urine, which will pull the vagina and rectum up and back. (Once you have the feel for which muscles to squeeze, do not interrupt the flow of urine regularly, because it can weaken the muscles over time)
- Breathe naturally and hold for five seconds, then release for five seconds. Gradually work up to holding for 10 seconds and releasing for 10 seconds.
- Try to do this ten times in a row, at least three times each day.
- Kegels can be done during other routine activities, such as sitting at a desk, or while commuting to work.
For some women, a vaginal pessary, a small plastic device, may be inserted to provide support for prolapsed organs. A physician will help determine the correct size and shape of pessary so it fits the woman comfortably. Pessaries must be removed and cleaned regularly.
Surgery for pelvic support issues
If the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse are severe or diminish a woman’s quality of life significantly, surgery may be an option to repair the pelvic floor muscles and/or reposition the prolapsed organs.
Surgery may not provide relief from all of the symptoms of pelvic floor problems, such as lower back pain, pelvic pressure, and pain during intercourse. There is a chance that the problems will develop again after surgery, or that the surgery can lead to prolapse of different pelvic organs in the future, requiring additional surgery.
Lifestyle changes are beneficial even if a woman chooses to have surgery for her pelvic organ prolapse symptoms. Research shows that performing Kegel exercises in addition to surgery provides better results that surgery alone.
Women should wait until they are finished having children to have surgery for pelvic support problems because pregnancy and childbirth will put intense strain on – and possibly damage – the tissues corrected during the surgery.