There are different types of prolapse and different kinds of treatment.
Prolapse or pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can happen to a number of your pelvic organs, including your bladder, uterus, vagina, bowel and rectum. There can be different stages of prolapse, from mild to severe.
If you’ve found out you have prolapse and you’re looking to treat the condition, you may be asking can pelvic floor exercises cure a prolapse? That may depend.
Prolapse is a condition that’s caused when your pelvic floor muscles weaken. These important muscles and tissues act like a hammock, holding the pelvic organs in place. When they weaken, they can cause those organs to prolapse, or drop from their regular position. The affected organs can include the bladder, bowel, rectum, and uterus, and the upper portion of the vagina.
There are different treatment options, depending on the organ impacted and the severity of the prolapse. In mild or moderate cases, the organs sometimes move back into the correct position on their own. There are instances where they don’t drop down further, creating a more severe prolapse. Many women find that doing pelvic floor exercises is enough to improve the symptoms.1
One in four women over the age of 18 reports reports suffering from a pelvic floor disorder, including pelvic organ prolapse.2
Treating Pelvic Organ Prolapse
If you have been diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse, your health care provider will work with you on a treatment plan. Part of that may include doing pelvic floor exercises.
Sometimes also called Kegel exercises, these exercises are intended to strengthen those important pelvic floor muscles, and are particularly suitable for women who have mild bladder leakage, or stress incontinence, which is often present in women with prolapse.2
Pelvic floor exercises involve actively squeezing the muscles in the pelvic floor, and it’s often recommended that a physiotherapist helps teach you the proper exercise technique.1
In fact some physicians believe that the simplest, least invasive treatment options such as exercise should be tried first.2 Pelvic floor muscle training combined with physical therapy can also be paired with biofeedback therapy, which helps you learn to locate those muscles to more effectively strengthen them. Finally, some doctors recommend use of a pessary, a small device inserted into the vagina to hold the bladder, uterus or rectum in place.2
So how effective are pelvic floor exercises?
Can Pelvic Floor Exercises Cure a Prolapse?
The answer was yes, according to a Norwegian study. It concluded that pelvic floor muscle training under the supervision of a physical therapist can not only help prevent the condition from worsening but also correct some of the underlying defects.3
Another study found that a group of women trained in pelvic floor exercises, after two years, had a decrease in severity of symptoms compared to a control group, and fewer of them required further treatment compared to the control group. This study suggested that pelvic floor muscle training could be a useful option for managing minor pelvic organ prolapse, and possibly reduce the need for further treatment such as surgery.4
Other researchers have concluded that pelvic floor exercises can improve the symptoms in mild and moderate cases, and sometimes prevent the organs from slipping further. But these exercises don’t always help, and some women still have problems despite doing them.1
It’s also believed that pelvic floor exercises are more effective if the prolapsed organs are in the front part of the pelvis, where the bladder and urethra are found. Studies have also found that pelvic floor exercises don’t make a difference in women who have already had prolapse surgery.1
Finally, researchers suggest that pelvic floor exercises may be helpful even before women have any symptoms of prolapse.4
Find Out More
If you suspect you have prolapse, or you’ve been diagnosed with prolapse, ask your doctor about pelvic floor exercises as a possible treatment option. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can help with advice and treatment for prolapse.