Don't Be Afraid Of Your Vagina: My Story of Pelvic Organ Prolapse Recovery
Being diagnosed with a pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can be devastating for any woman and these emotions are very intense. There is a lot of fear,anxiety, shame and blame that comes along with this and there are so many women who suffer alone digging through google to make sense of how to live the rest of their lives as normal as possible.
Many women feel completely dismissed when it comes to the symptoms of a POP. The first place they turn is usually a loved one or family doctor and these symptoms are brushed off as a normal part of having a baby. Sure, sometimes these symptoms resolve themselves but a lot of the time they may not. So what then?
Typical symptoms include:
Accidental or unwanted leakage when laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising or even sometimes after/during sex
Bulging, heaviness, discomfort/pain, or the feeling of a tampon falling out of the vagina
Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all
I had 4 our of 5
As you can see, these are some pretty intimate issues that may be hard to talk about but we need to talk more openly about them to educate one another. There is hope and there is treatment.
So here I go! I'll tell you my story.
I myself have a grade one bladder prolapse and I’ve been symptom free for about 2 years. I was diagnosed at about 12 weeks postpartum. I remember getting assessed like it was yesterday. When my pelvic floor physio first told me, I had a grade 1-2 bladder prolapse my very first emotion was the feeling of failure. I had been training for years, I was strong and athletic--how could this happen?
At first, I was afraid to get back into training. I didn’t want to make my issues worse, so did this mean that I would never be able to get back into the activities that I enjoy? According to google, yes.
My business coach, Shelagh Cummins had mentioned to me early on about a woman in Toronto who she worked with to set up her fitness business who is now one of the co-owners of Bellies Inc, Sam Montpetit-Huynh. So, I messaged her asking for an introduction. Sam was great and recommended Core Confidence and the MuTu System. I bought both right away! Sam has helped to educate thousands of trainers and has worked with 100's of women in the treatment of core and pelvic floor dysfunctions including POP. Through her experiences, she has empowered women from all over to take charge of their pelvic health and I was confident that she was the best person for me to turn to.
I then found Jessie Mundell who gave me a lot of hope as well. She encourages women to strength train postpartum and that’s what I needed. Even if it was a small start, that was better than feeling sorry for myself.
As my strength and endurance improved, the confidence in my body improved. It took me about a year to become completely comfortable with my body and its function. I was less anxious, angry and scared but I did go and get assessed by a pelvic floor physio at about a year postpartum to be sure I wasn’t destroying myself.
My pelvic floor function was optimal and my prolapse was downgraded to a 1. I was managing my prolapse well and my physio was pleased. It was reassuring to know that my function was back.
Coming to terms with a pelvic floor dysfunction is a process and it’s okay to be emotional. You have to allow yourself to have these feelings. If you’re anxious, be anxious. If you’re scared, be scared. Angry, that’s okay too. It’s perfectly normal to have questions and question yourself but know this, you are not alone and there is help. This is why I’m telling you about what’s happening within my vagina. I went through this process alone and it was hard to deal because I felt like I had nowhere to go.
I became certified with Bellies Inc and I’m in the process to becoming a Master Trainer, I recently completed Jessie Mundell’s Postnatal Fitness Specialist Certification, and I’ve taken so many other courses including Julie Wiebe and Brianna Battles Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism. I also work very closely with the pelvic floor physios in my community because it’s so important that women get the right care and training recommendations for their individual needs.
Luckily, I found the right women with the right qualifications to help me navigate my way back into training. This piece is so important and I can't stress how much it's needed. When we're meant to have babies and our bodies are expected to bounce back then they don't is difficult to process. It can be unnerving and isolating affecting body image, our emotional and mental and emotional health, sexual health, physical health, self-esteem, and self-worth. It doesn't have to be this way for women. We need better education and support.
My goal is to give you hope. I’m not here to tell you that you have to give up your favourite sports, activities, or methods of training. I’ve had a lot of success working with women with a pelvic organ prolapse and the very first thing is removing the fear and regaining body trust. From there, we go for it! I’m here to meet you where you’re at and get you to your goals, not to tell you to give up.
The first step is to get assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist post-pregnancy, even if you're not showing any symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms don't show themselves right away but happen gradually over time. It is also important to consult with someone who has training in working with postpartum women and pelvic floor treatment. This is a specialized training that not all coaches are qualified for because it isn't part of standard certifications. These well meaning trainers may be unknowingly doing more hard than good.
>>In my Post-Baby Fitness Guide:5 Steps To Loving Your Baby Body, you will learn simple and actionable steps to maximize your fitness planning at any stage of your life. You’ll improve performance and avoid the complications that can arise from postnatal exercising. Download the free guide here. >>>
Love your baby body,