Common Myths About Pelvic Floor Health & POP
Unless you have experienced health concerns related to your pelvic floor (or are close with someone who has), chances are that your exposure to information about pelvic floor health has been limited. And even though a huge percentage of women will experience pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in their lifetime (studies suggest up to 25%, though the actual number may be much higher), it’s still one of the most under-studied and under-discussed topics in healthcare. It’s no wonder, then, that there are so many myths, misunderstandings, and misconceptions about pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor health in general.
And while there is good news–the topic is becoming more mainstream and there are great resources spreading important information–we know there’s lots of work to be done to help people feel less isolated and more empowered in their pelvic health journeys. Today, we’re tackling some of the most common myths in hopes that we can help set the record straight and normalize the conversation about pelvic floor health and POP.
Myth #1: Pelvic floor health is only a women’s issue.
Everyone–people of all genders–should care about pelvic floor health. Your pelvic floor muscles do a lot for you. They help stabilize your upper body, play a role in bladder/bowel control, and contribute to sexual function. We all can benefit from an understanding of how the pelvic floor affects our overall health, and there is a huge need for widespread conversation and education about why the pelvic floor is important.
If you’re looking for something to do right now to help fight misinformation and eradicate the stigma associated with pelvic floor health, a great place to begin is by educating yourself on pelvic floor anatomy. A simple Google or Youtube search for “Pelvic floor anatomy” will yield lots of helpful results to get you started. Here’s one of our favorites: in this video, a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist explains the anatomy of the pelvic floor (and gives an example of what an initial exam might be like).
Myth #2: You can’t run/jump/pick up your baby/have sex (or any other activity you enjoy) with pelvic organ prolapse.
Your quality of life is important, and if your POP symptoms are preventing you from enjoying your favorite activities, let your healthcare provider know. POP is a manageable condition, and your provider can help guide you toward treatment options that will work for you, your specific symptoms, and your lifestyle. From support garments to pessaries to physical therapy, there are many treatment options and resources available. (If you enjoy running, check out these tips for running safely with prolapse.)
When it comes to discussing your options with your healthcare provider, remember that you know your body best, and it’s okay to seek multiple opinions. Unfortunately, for many people, the path to POP diagnosis isn’t easy and can involve several conversations or visits to multiple providers. Moreover, when people begin to talk about how to manage their POP, they may be told that certain treatment options aren’t a good fit or given advice that isn’t helpful at all. If this happens to you, don’t give up! Your concerns are valid, and it’s important for you to feel comfortable with the professional care you receive. If you are looking for a second or additional opinion, check out Pelvic Guru’s directory or the American Physical Therapy Association’s Pelvic Health Academy’s PT locator.
Myth #3: Pelvic organ prolapse only occurs after vaginal childbirth.
The truth is, it can occur at any time. Many people do notice their first POP symptoms after giving birth–sometimes immediately after, and sometimes after several weeks or months.
However, it can also happen at other points throughout a person’s life, including during menopause. People who deliver their babies via C-section can also experience prolapse, as a growing baby places lots of stress and tension on the person’s internal organs.
In addition to giving birth, there are many factors that can contribute to the likelihood of someone experiencing POP in their lifetime. Genetics, hormonal changes, heavy lifting, and straining from chronic constipation are all associated with higher risk for POP.
We hope this provides you with a better understanding of pelvic floor health and common myths about POP. Use the share buttons below to help us spread the word about pelvic floor health and normalize the conversation.
**Medical Disclaimer: This post is intended to provide information and resources only. This post or any of the information contained within should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the guidance of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your healthcare, conditions, and recommended treatment.