You might tell a friend over a cup of coffee that you’ve got a sore back, but would you be likely to say, “Guess what happened? My bladder/uterus/rectum slipped.” Not likely! But pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is common. It affects approximately 50 percent of women and 30 percent of female athletes, some of whom haven’t even given birth. It remains under the radar, despite the impact it can have on daily life.
I know this first-hand. Now, I love the outdoors. I’m a keen tramper. I do stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and surfing, kiteboarding, sailing. I run bush skills courses for women. I feel fit and active. So why me? That was the question I asked myself when, in July 2019, my uterus unexpectedly slipped lower than it should be. It was a scary feeling, complete loss of control.
Visits to the GP, pelvic physiotherapist and gynaecologist followed, starting me on a new journey. Pelvic physio angels radiated empathy, and supported and helped me regain physical stability.
But the big question I kept asking myself was “How do other active women deal with the restrictions that POP has on their sporting activities? The physical, but especially the mental impacts?”
To find some answers, I decided to compile a book: POP Goes My Pelvis! It aims to raise awareness and share information – because so little info is available – and it shares stories from active women across New Zealand and Australia affected by POP. My aim is to give encouragement, hope and support to other women. To assure them that they are not alone; that getting an activity-related positive buzz is still possible!
And when it feels like something has slipped ‘down there’, women need all the help they can get.
I am currently seeking contributions in the form of stories and funding. For further information or to contribute, please email Anja Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some words from Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Brisbane, Australia – Author of the international best-selling Prolapse Exercises Book Series:
“Women react to receiving a prolapse diagnosis with a range of emotions. Some women aren’t bothered by their diagnosis whereas others say they feel shocked and upset. Common emotions related to living with prolapse include grief, self-blame, poor body image and fear of prolapse worsening. Many women also say they feel a lack of emotional support owing to the social stigma surrounding prolapse issues.
“Staying active is also a source of anxiety for some women living with prolapse issues. Apprehension about how to exercise, minimise prolapse symptoms and avoid prolapse worsening is a common problem. Some women reduce their physical activity levels or stop exercising altogether for fear of making their prolapse worse, thereby foregoing the many physical and emotional benefits that exercise provides.
“Most women with prolapse issues can stay physically active by undertaking pelvic floor friendly exercises and activities. Appropriate fitness exercises and activities with prolapse include low impact exercise, appropriate strength and core training, along with modifying or avoiding inappropriate activities.
“Anja’s book project ‘POP goes my pelvis’ is an honest and compelling account of her personal experience in dealing with prolapse, along with real-world personal prolapse stories generously shared by many other women. This book will help women feel less isolated, better supported and empowered to manage prolapse emotions and improve their quality of life. ‘POP goes my pelvis’ is a progressive move towards dispelling the stigma and mystery that continues to surround prolapse issues.”