Pelvic floor muscle exercises are key to managing pelvic organ prolapse symptoms. We know that if you do them three times a day for 3 to 5 months your pelvic floor will begin to effectively support your pelvic organs and you’ll no longer have those uncomfortable, bothersome symptoms. The following five main lifestyle factors have also been found to aggravate prolapse symptoms by increasing the pressure in your abdomen. Follow the lifestyle advice guidance below to reduce your risk of prolapses returning.
Constipation is usually caused by dehydration and not enough fibre in your diet. Try to avoid this by ensuring that you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Straining to empty your bowel can make your prolapse worse, so make sure that you adopt the correct position when opening your bowels, and use diaphragmatic breathing as your only pressure.
Ensuring that you are a healthy weight for your height avoids straining the pelvic floor unnecessarily. Try checking your Body Mass Index (BMI) on the NHS Choices website. If your BMI is over 30 losing even a few pounds may help. Aim to get your BMI within the healthy target range for your height.
• Heavy lifting
Try to avoid heavy lifting where possible, for example when shopping using a large hand bag, gardening, or carrying toddlers. If you cannot avoid it, try to lift less often and for short periods of time; can you lift two lighter loads rather than one heavy load? If you do have to lift, pull in your back passage beforehand to brace your pelvic floor muscles as you lift.
Prolonged coughing can put pressure on your pelvic floor and worsen symptoms, especially if you have a long term respiratory condition such as asthma. Make sure you are receiving the correct treatment to help your condition. Stopping smoking will help a great deal; have a look at the Stop Smoking Wales website or contact the Helpline (0800 085 2219) for further advice.
High impact exercise like aerobics or running should be avoided. Lower impact exercise such as swimming, Pilates, yoga, walking or cycling will put less pressure on your prolapse. You can return to higher impact exercise like Crossfit, but you need a well-trained physio by your side to see you through the process. Just get in touch if you’d like to be put in contact with one!
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