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A Prolapsed Uterus: What You Need to Know

A Prolapsed Uterus: What You Need to Know

prolapsed uterus intro photo

A prolapsed uterus can affect women of any age, but primarily affect someone who has gone through menopause or women who have given vaginal birth. Thank goodness it’s not overly common… but it does happen. As scary as it sounds, prolapse isn’t hopeless! Once diagnosed, people dealing with prolapse have an array of options to help them get things back into place. Continue reading for facts and how to prevent or treat uterine prolapse. 

What is a prolapsed uterus?

The uterus (or womb) is a muscular structure that’s held in place by pelvic muscles and ligaments. If these muscles or ligaments stretch or become weak, they’re no longer able to support the uterus, causing prolapse. The definition of ‘prolapse’ is slipping or moving downward. In the event of uterine prolapse, the uterus has migrated down from its original placement into the vaginal canal.  

A prolapsed uterus may be labeled ‘incomplete’ or ‘complete’. Within those are 4 different degrees also. An incomplete prolapse occurs when the uterus is only partly sagging into the vagina. Complete prolapse occurs when the uterus falls so far down that some tissue protrudes outside of the vaginal opening.

  • First Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina.
  • Second Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina just before the opening.
  • Third Degree – The cervix is outside the vagina.
  • Fourth Degree – The entire uterus is outside the vagina. This condition is also called procidentia. This is caused by a weakness in all of the supporting muscles.

What causes prolapse?

As mentioned, ‘prolapse’ means movement or slipping downward. So actually this can happen to any organ in the pelvic region. A prolapsed uterus is primarily present in women 50+ or who are postmenopausal. However, it can happen to any woman with these leading factors:

  • Pregnancy/childbirths with normal or complicated delivery through the vagina (childbirth is probably the biggest strain to the pelvic region known to man)
  • Weakness in the pelvic muscles
  • Weakening and loss of tissue tone after menopause and loss of natural estrogen
  • Conditions leading to increased pressure in the abdomen such as chronic cough (with bronchitis and asthma), straining (with constipation)
  • Being overweight or obese with its additional strain on pelvic muscles
  • Major surgery in the pelvic area leading to loss of external support

Basically, it’s all about muscle and ligaments becoming weak; the uterus needs to be held in place, and if the structures that do that are no longer strong enough, it may slip. Consequently, when one pelvic organ prolapses, it increases the likelihood that others follow because it’s a waving red flag that the group of muscles holding things together in the pelvic area is weak.

Can a menstrual cup cause uterine prolapse?

With new trends and new devices, come new speculations. There aren’t conclusive studies that show menstrual cups cause prolapse of the uterus or other pelvic organs. Healthcare providers do suggest that it can further an already present issue by misuse of a menstrual cup.

When using a menstrual cup, do not bear down on the menstrual cup to lower it in the canal. When you’re wanting to remove the cup, be sure that you completely relax your pelvic muscles prior to removal. Breaking the seal is super important prior to removal. Do so by either pinching the base of the menstrual cup or putting one finger up the side of the cup and listen for the sound of air, meaning the seal has been broken.

What are the symptoms of a prolapsed uterus?

Here are some signs to keep in mind should you have any of the traits above. It greatly depends on the degree of prolapse that is occurring. If it’s mild, doctors will give you a list of exercises and send you on your way!

  1. You feel like you’re sitting on a golf ball. All bodies are different and all situations are different. As mentioned previously, there are different degrees of severity with uterine prolapse. Feeling like you’re sitting on a ball would happen with degree 3 or 4 where the uterus is emerging from the vagina. 
  2. Difficulty urinating. Incontinence, urinary hesitancy, or incomplete bladder emptying which can lead to recurrent UTIs. Slow-release of the urine or feeling like something is pressing on your bladder. 
  3. Constant cramping or pulling in the pelvic region. This may seem like an obvious one but if one organ is moving away from where it should be, the effect could continue and cause a feeling of “heaviness” in the pelvic region. 
  4. Bowl issues. As I mentioned earlier, if something like your uterus is prolapsing, chances are the muscles in your pelvic region are very weak. This can lead to other muscles prolapsing. Props to you if you guessed intestine prolapse! 
  5. Painful sex. Because of how the female reproductive system is laid out, a prolapsed uterus involves the cervix as well; both uterus and cervix “fall” into the vagina, depending on the degree. Sex is painful at best and sometimes impossible depending on the degree of the prolapse. 
  6. Seeing your cervix physically birthing from the vagina. At this point, the pain will be inevitable and this would qualify as a medical emergency and you be brought to the emergency room as soon as possible. But even if you just feel something peculiar inside your vagina alongside peculiar sensations in your pelvic area, you should still get yourself checked out as soon as possible.
yoga pose

How can I prevent uterine prolapse?

After all that, that is a really important question! 

Exercises for the pelvic floor. You’re in luck! We recently spoke in great detail about strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. There are several exercises and stretches you can do in the comfort of your home on a daily basis that will help whip them into shape! 

Kegel Exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. It’s recommended to do these a handful of times a day!

Hormones. If you are postmenopausal, your production of estrogen goes down. This has been linked to the weakening of the muscles in the pelvic region. A doctor could suggest an estrogen cream or suppository to help balance you out. Again, this is only a suggestion for someone hormone-deficient.

Vaginal pessary. This is a vaginal device that supports the uterus and keeps it in position. Crazy right!?  It is important to follow the instructions on care, removal, and insertion of the pessary. Discuss with your provider if this treatment is right for you.

Losing weight. Extra weight within the abdomen places unnecessary strain on the pelvic muscles. 

Surgery. Thankfully this is the last option and only if your uterine prolapse is in the 3rd or 4th degree.

Using a menstrual cup with a prolapsed uterus

If you are experiencing slight uterine prolapse and you’re premenopausal, you will still have a period! Tampons could lead to easy irritation due to the position of the vagina and uterus if it is prolapsing. Have you thought about trying a menstrual cup? They are a medical-grade silicone cup-shaped device that folds and sits in the vaginal canal to collect menses. 

Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a menstrual cup successfully and without pain. (yay!) Make sure to measure your cervix to get an idea of the space you’re working with. Most women have reported that a menstrual cup that is designed to sit lower in the vaginal canal works best. We have all the information about cup design and size right over here!

menstrual cup versus tampon

If you suspect you have a prolapse occurring, we urge you to go to your doctor to get checked out and diagnosed. Hopefully, this post made the idea of a prolapsed uterus a little less scary and with some hope for recovery! 

Have you experienced a prolapsed uterus in the past? How did you bounce back? Did it affect your menstruation? Be sure to check out our selection of menstrual cups! With the different sizes and shapes, there is one sure to fit your needs! 

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How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

Your pelvic floor muscles form the bottom of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and bowel). Are you ever in the bathroom and someone barges in unexpectedly? You’re startled and you stop peeing! Or you keep yourself from passing gas at an inopportune moment? Thank your pelvic floor muscles! They’re also the muscles that can contract (tighten) during an orgasm. Here are tips to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They are important to the wellbeing of anything south of your belly button!

How do I know if my pelvic floor muscles are weak?

Here are some tall-tale signs your pelvis could use a workout!

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or during physical activity
  • Passing wind when bending over or lifting (from the front or the back!)
  • Not being able to reach the toilet without an accident
  • Tampons that dislodge easily or fall out
  • Bulge at the vaginal opening 

How do pelvic floor muscles weaken? 

So we’ve talked about them possibly being weak, but how does it get there?

  • Pregnancy! The heavyweight of the uterus continuously for months. 
  • Vaginal childbirth and how it can overstretch the muscles
  • The weight of obesity 
  • Continuous constipation and straining yourself during bowel movements

How do I strengthen pelvic floor muscles? 

Good news! They can be strengthened! Like any other muscle in our bodies, with knowledge, patience and consistent work, we can fix a weak pelvic floor. 

Kegel Exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. It’s recommended to do these a handful of times a day!

The key is to try not to use your abdomen, leg, or butt muscles when you contract your pelvic floor muscles. Exercising these muscles won’t help and will distract you from your mission! To find out if you are contracting your abdomen, leg, or butt muscles, you can place one hand on your stomach and your other hand underneath your buttocks or on your leg. Squeeze to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If you feel your abdomen, leg, or butt move in any way, you’re using the wrong muscles. 

Squats

squat giph

Doing squats correctly is key to the movement engaging the right muscles… and avoiding injury! 

The Bridge 

bridge giph

Split Tabletop Stretch

split tabletop giph

This is a great exercise for anyone with back issues as you’re able to lie down and take the pressure off your back.

Bird Dog

 

Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles + a tilted uterus

Tilted, tipped and retroverted — all names for the same thing. If you have a tipped uterus, your uterus curves back towards your spine versus being relatively straight or leaning slightly towards your belly button. Studies show that weak pelvic floor muscles can help in the “relaxing” of your entire pelvic area, including contributing to a tipped uterus. 

A tilted uterus can cause pain during sex, problems with fertility, urinary incontinence, recurrent urinary tract infections and discomfort wearing tampons. 

Typically, someone with a tilted uterus has a cervix that sits lower in the vaginal canal. A lower cervix also has a few of the symptoms mentioned above: painful intercourse, and discomfort wearing a tampon. If you have tried menstrual product alternatives like menstrual cups or a menstrual disc, you probably have found those are difficult or uncomfortable too! 

Wait! Before you throw in the towel!

When wearing a menstrual disc, the lip of the disc catches the underside of the cervix and you “tuck” the opposite side of the disc behind your pubic bone. If you’ve tried this with no luck, you aren’t alone! Your cervix is altogether placed differently. If you have a tipped uterus and are attempting a menstrual disc, keep in mind that in most circumstances you won’t be able to catch the underside of the cervix. 

Tilted uterus regular uterus

When wearing a menstrual cup with a tilted uterus, you may find that because of your lower cervix, your cup sits much lower in the vaginal canal. This can actually be quite uncomfortable, depending on the width and depth of the cup. Here at Pixie Cup, we have created a cup, especially for a low-sitting cervix! Our Pixie Cup Luxe is shaped  differently compared to the traditional Pixie Cup and is meant to be worn lower in the vagina. It is purposely thinner and has a shorter stem so you don’t feel it for complete period freedom!

If you’ve had children, any sort of ultrasound or have had an IUD placed (or removed) your doctor is able to tell if you have a tilted uterus already. Some of us are just born with it and these pelvic floor exercises can be helpful! Share with us your experiences!

Head over to our online store to check out our Pixie Cup Luxe and other important menstrual cup products!

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PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation, bladder issues, constipation, incontinence, etc. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.

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