As the saying goes, "prevention is the best medicine." Although there is no definite way to prevent uterine prolapse, there are certainly ways to lower the risk. Firstly, uterine prolapse is rare in people who do not bear children but can occur if a person is overweight or has a condition that strains the pelvic floor, such as a chronic cough or constipation.
Among those who give birth vaginally, about 50% will develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. So if abstaining from having children is not your preferred prevention method,, here are 7 things you can do:
" Among mothers who give birth vaginally, about 50% will develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime”
1. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
At the top of the list, we have Kegel exercises. These exercises can be done by regularly contracting, holding, and relaxing the muscles that make up the pelvic floor. Repetition is key, as it takes between 1 and 3 months for these exercises to have an effect. But don’t fear! These exercises don’t require you to leave your home or spend hours at the gym a week, you can simply perform them throughout the day, for a couple of minutes at a time. A physical therapist specialized in the pelvic floor muscles can assist you to make sure you're doing it correctly. Another option is a biofeedback device that can guide your exercise and keep you on track. These exercises are especially important after delivering a baby. But, as always, the best time to start is now as there are many more benefits to a stronger pelvic floor than just a quicker postpartum recovery and prolapse prevention.
2. Avoid weight gain
Assist your body in the lifelong battle against gravity. Just as extra weight affects your joints, it is also a strain for your muscles and the structural integrity of your pelvic floor. But there’s no need for you to do it alone! Talk to your doctor about your ideal weight and get some evidence-based tips for weight-loss strategies.
3. Learn to lift correctly
Over-straining your muscles can lead to, or worsen prolapse. Not lifting things that are too heavy for you, and learning to use your legs rather than waist or back is important for preventing both prolapse and back injuries.
4. Treat or prevent constipation
Just like heavy lifting and weight gain, straining during bowel movements puts pressure on your pelvic floor. To prevent constipation, make sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat foods that are rich in fiber. It’s also important to make sure you don’t hold it in when you feel the urge to go as that can worsen or cause constipation.But, be sure not to force it if your body isn't ready! We encourage you to consult your doctor if dietary changes aren't working. Sometimes constipation can be caused by nerve issues, medications, or other underlying causes. Don't attempt to self-medicate with laxatives until you've talked to your doctor as it might make your condition worse.
5. Take care of your lungs
Repetitive coughing causes over-straining. Get your cough treated or try to ease the severity. If you're a smoker, consider quitting. There are a vast number of aids available to make the journey easier, so don't be afraid to ask your doctor for recommendations.
6. Before giving birth - Talk to your ob/gyn
According to one study, the chances of developing uterine prolapse after birth greatly increase with the use of forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery. But that doesn't mean your doctor shouldn't use them if they have proper experience with it. Before delivery, ask your ob/gyn about how comfortable they are with using those tools. Tell them about your concerns and mention if you or anyone in your family has a history of prolapse or weak connective tissue.
"According to one study, the chances of developing uterine prolapse after birth greatly increase with the use of forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery."
7. Vaginal Estrogen - To use or not to use?
The risk of uterine prolapse increases during menopause. For those who already have a prolapse, vaginal estrogen may be prescribed before surgery along with pelvic muscle exercises to strengthen the vaginal wall. But how does it hold up as a preventative measure? Generally, the data is inconclusive. It's possible that for people over 60, oral raloxifene could reduce the need for pelvic organ prolapse surgery, but prescribing it for prevention isn't regular practice. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons to figure out what might be best for you.
"Considering the number of people that develop prolapse, it's well worth trying to prevent it before it happens!"
In addition to the preventative methods listed above, remember that a healthy diet and regular exercise are vital in keeping all your organs intact and running smoothly. Creating prevention-focused habits may not be easy, so find support! Talk to your doctor, use the help of an app, or create a mutual support system with your friends. Considering the number of people that develop prolapse, it's well worth trying to prevent it before it happens!
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