Pelvic Organ Prolapse & Fear
By Lara Desrosiers, MSc. OT Reg. (Ont.)
Let’s make no bones about it. Pelvic Organ Prolapse is often a very scary experience, particularly when it takes us completely by surprise (which it often does!)
To make matters worse, there are a ton of messages out there that perpetuate fear of moving our bodies with Pelvic Organ Prolapse. These messages might come from late night Google searches or even from our well-meaning peers and health providers who certainly have their own biases and perhaps fears and uncertainty when it comes to managing Prolapse.
We tend to get a lot of messages about how we “should” be moving our bodies or finding the “correct way” to move our bodies.
This often leads to the development of certain rules about movement in hopes of staying safe and preventing POP from getting worse.
Do any of these rules sound familiar to you?
“If I focus on contracting my pelvic floor or exhaling every time I stand up, then I won’t make my POP worse.”
“If I hold my body in a particular alignment, then I won’t make my POP worse.”
“If I altogether avoid any movement that is high impact or dynamic, then I won’t make my POP worse.”
These rules might be very helpful…AT FIRST! They might help you to find different STRATEGIES that do feel more supportive, aggravate your symptoms less or help you to keep doing things that would otherwise be just too scary at a certain stage in your recovery. They may also provide a sense of control for a period when that is exactly what you need.
But here is the pitfall…even when we do ALL the things to try to eliminate or control POP, there will always be aspects of the experience that are outside of our control. I wish it weren’t the case! What we are often left with when we are investing huge amounts of time, attention and energy in controlling that which comes with no guarantees, is a life centred around control tactics that can be exhausting and disabling!
When our rules for our body and movement persist, they can leave us STUCK
STUCK in hypervigilance. That is, thinking about our every movement and making it difficult to be present and enjoy moving our bodies again
STUCK in self-blame, criticism or fear if we catch ourselves returning to different patterns of movement
STUCK in rigidity
The reality… looking at movement through a lens of “good vs. bad”, “correct or incorrect”, “proper or improper” often contributes to a nervous system that is on high alert, constantly monitoring for symptoms and primed to feel unsafe and thus sound the POP alarm! The added tension that comes alongside vigilance can be counterproductive and ramp up symptoms further, leaving us feeling even more out of control. It can be a vicious cycle for many.
You may even find that once you’ve done some awesome work and your pelvic floor therapist gives you the green light to get back to those movements that perhaps they cautioned against early on in your recovery, it is hard to let go of the rules, the fears and worries in order to trust your body enough to dive back in.
This is human!
So…why isn’t fear a central topic when it comes to talking about managing prolapse?
There are wonderfully useful, evidence-based strategies that can help us to examine our rules, evaluating whether or not they remain useful for us, and create experiences that help us to rebuild confidence with movement when fear is a BIG factor that is getting in the way.
Finding ways to let go of the notion of “correctness” when it comes to movement and when it is no longer serving us is such an important part of finding pathways back to living a rich and meaningful life with Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
This is why I created the Mind Your POP™ with curiosity, flexibility, and hope Online Program.
I want to teach you these strategies so that you can regain your confidence and start feeling like yourself again!
My mission has been to educate rehab providers about the role that fear plays in perpetuating disability and strategies that we can use, as health providers, to create modifications that offer variety, choice and empowerment vs. perpetuate fear and disability. But…I firmly believe that these skills need to come right to you. I want to equip you with these strategies directly so that you can feel empowered to guide your rehabilitation process.
In the Mind Your POP™ Program, you will discover…
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse symptoms can be triggered by so much more than just the position of your organs
- How to make sense of your POP symptoms and develop a diverse toolbox of strategies to manage them
- How to navigate the many mindset traps that could be making it difficult to move forward in recovery AND be present with people and activities that you love
- Evidence based strategies for working through fear of movement and re-building your confidence
- Evidence based strategies to help you bring your attention back to other important aspects of your life
- Tools, resources and methods from an OT who gets it and can help you to manage POP symptoms in your day-to-day life with greater ease and control