Uterine prolapse is when the womb (uterus) slides from its normal position into the vaginal area. There are four stages of uterine prolapse. First-degree uterine prolapse is when the cervix drops into the vagina. Second-degree prolapse is when the cervix sticks out of the opening of the vagina. Third-degree is when the cervix is outside of the vagina and fourth degree is when the entire uterus is outside the vagina.
Cystocele is when part of the bladder bulges into the vagina. Rectocele is when the rectum bulges into the lower rear vaginal wall. This can make bowel movements difficult and women may need to push on the inside rear wall of the vagina with their fingers to empty the bowel. Enterocele is when a portion of the small intestine bulges into the vagina through a herniation in the rear upper portion of the upper rear vaginal wall.
Prolapse is a result of a weakness in the supporting structures of the organs such as muscles, ligaments, and fascia. The weakness can be caused from lack of proper alignment of the pelvis, sacrum, traumatic falls or accidents, emotional component/trauma, spleen qi deficiency, kidney yang deficiency, and from using the excessive Valsalva maneuver. Valsalva is when you take in a breath, seal it off and push to get things like poop, babies and snot out. Excessive pushing (Valsalva) causes unnecessary intra-abdominal pressure and can lead to damage of the supporting tissues.
“The human body has great equipment for expelling various items. Smooth muscle creates wave-like motions that move items through the body (like food through your digestive tract, or particles up through your sinuses). Specialty muscles like the diaphragm (generating upward forces for coughing and vomiting) and the uterus (vaginal delivery) are well-designed and can really get the job done for you,” Katy Bowman-bio-mechanical scientist. Read more here about the over-developed habits that we have created that work against our natural expelling mechanics, making elimination of all types more difficult.
Click here and scroll down to page 80 to see imaging of prolapse of the bladder and uterus post-defecation Valsalva. (1)
Symptoms of prolapse:
- Heaviness in the pelvis
- Pelvic pain
- Urinary Incontinence
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty walking
- Protrusion of tissue
- Difficulty urinating
- Difficult or painful intercourse
- May feel like you are sitting on a ball
Help for prolapsed uterus:
Remember, it is easier to prevent than to cure.
1. Stop sucking in (read Katy’s post, Push em’ Out, Push ’em Out)
2. Restorative Exercise™ for Pelvic Floor Health. See a Restorative Exercise Specialist™ (RES) in your area. The “Down, There,” for Women DVD is also a good place to start but is not a substitute for working with an RES. I recommend this DVD to all women whether they are having prolapse or not, it is also great for menstrual pain, low back, sacral and hip issues, digestive health, pelvic floor disorder, incontinence and preventive measures.
3. Stop straining during bowel movements, to do this you have to follow steps one and two, drink enough water and talk to a qualified practitioner about your diet. Sometimes drinking one or two glasses of water with lemon, first thing in the morning will help flush the colon (lemon stimulates bile which is a natural laxative). Also, using a Squatty Potty may help reduce the need for straining, but this is something you need to transition to. A Restorative Exercise Specialist™ will help you with the transition.
4. Learn the self-care massage called Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® (ATMAT). The technique is a noninvasive external technique designed to lift and center the uterus. A certified ATMAT practitioner will teach you the self-care massage during your first session. Do the self-care massage on a slant board (about 45 degrees) or pillow that puts your hips higher than your head, this will allow gravity aid you during self-care. The massage is done every day except when you are menstruating, five days before menses if you think you may be pregnant, or have an infection or cancer present. The self-care massage takes about five minutes each time.
5. It’s ideal to see your certified Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® practitioner one to three sessions a month for three months depending on your situation. There is posterior work that we can do to help correct pelvic alignment, increase abdominal blood flow and lift the uterus. Best results have been seen with women who have stage one and two prolapses, with moderate improvement in stage three prolapse with diligent self-care massage and alignment awareness. A Visceral Manipulation™ practitioner who has completed VM3 should also be able to help. I have done both trainings in the Arvigo work and in Visceral Manipulation™-they are both vastly different in their approach. The techniques I use depends on the individual situation.
6. No lifting over 10 pounds while you are healing if you are not able to lift without the Valsalva maneuver (creating internal pressure).
7. Nourish uterine ligaments- “A disturbance in the balance of Calc. fluor. or Calcium Fluoride in any of the body tissues, can cause a chronically relaxed condition of any of the associated tissues,” from the Natural Health DOC website. There is a homeopathic suppository remedy for prolapse, homeopathy can be very specific to the individual, so best to see someone who specializes in this.
Another popular supplement that I often see Naturopaths recommend is called Standard Process Ligaplex II 5300 150 Capsules (amazon affiliate link)
8. Uterine meditation/visualize the uterus lifting
9. Ask for help when needed. Many women with prolapse organs report that they lack adequate support from their loved ones or coworkers. Remember some people may not know you need help unless you ask.
10. Acupuncture, moxa or acupressure to certain points to raise the organ qi or treat deficiency. GV20 is perhaps the point most well-known for the treatment of prolapse. Located five cun within the anterior hairline on the governing vessel channel, it has the ability to raise the yang. A cun is the distance between the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints of the middle finger and is used as a measuring tool to find acupuncture points. Prolapse can have several sources, so see a qualified acupuncturist for treatments and learn self-care pressure points.
11. Stop wearing positive heeled shoes. High heeled shoes are bad for the pelvic floor, here is why.
12. Manage your general health, including alternative modalities and using conventional health care when needed. In some cases, especially stage four prolapse, a pessary may be used. A pessary is a small plastic or silicone medical device which is inserted into the vagina and acts as a support.
1.Imaging Pelvic Floor Disorders
By Jaap Stoker, Albert L. Baert, Stuart A. Taylor, John O.L. Delancey