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POP goes my pelvis!

Active women dealing with Pelvic Organ Prolapse

You might tell a friend over a cup of coffee that you’ve got a sore back, but “Guess what happened, my bladder/uterus/rectum slipped.”? Not likely!

So I decided to talk about pelvic organ prolapse (POP). This condition is common. It affects approximately 50% of women and 30% 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.

POP goes my pelvis! aims to raise awareness and share information – because so little info is available. These stories are from active women around New Zealand who have experienced prolapse.

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 gynecologist followed, starting me on a new journey.

Pelvic physio angels (in my case Claire Baker from Bay Physiotherapy, Tauranga) radiate empathy and support and Claire 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 this book – shared stories from women across New Zealand 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 and funding. For further information or to contribute, please email Anja Morris at anjaoutdoors@gmail.com

 

Liz Childs of Pelvic Health Physiotherapy, Wellington (also National Executive member, Continence NZ and Clinical Lecturer, University of Otago Medical School, Wellington)

 

Pelvic organ prolapse is extremely common, but unfortunately, there’s a huge lack of awareness about it. Often women don’t seek help – they don’t know where to go, and many don’t even know that help is available. Because pelvic floor problems cause shame and embarrassment, they’re not talked about and women end up suffering in silence.

Pelvic health physiotherapists have extra skills and training to help women with pelvic floor problems, including prolapse. There is strong evidence that a personalised pelvic floor strengthening programme, and advice on lifestyle modifications, can reduce prolapse. We can guide women through their rehabilitation and help stop symptoms.

Our aim is to help women achieve their exercise and lifestyle goals – be that lifting children, walking, running, climbing etc. Every woman should be able to participate in the activities they enjoy, and not be limited by pelvic floor dysfunction.

I am so pleased that Anja plans to highlight prolapse issues in a book about her experience, and those of other New Zealand women. These personal stories will enable others to see that they are not alone, and that they can get help.

Article by Anja Morris, Tauranga

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