Cute copy to encourage shopping
Whether you're pregnant or postpartum, you likely have some concerns about pelvic health. Pregnancy and childbirth can affect the pelvic floor, leading to issues such as incontinence, overactive bladder, and prolapse. The latter—specifically uterine prolapse—can cause a lot of worry for new and expecting mamas, so we sat down with Dr. Mickey Karram, an internationally renowned urogynecologist and pelvic surgeon, to better understand the issue.
Dr. Karram has published more than 200 scientific articles, co-written several textbooks, taught and demonstrated surgical techniques internationally, and previously served as president of the American Urogynecology Society. He’s been named as one of the “Best Doctors in America for Women” by Good Housekeeping. Most recently, he and his wife created the Foundation for Female Health Awareness, a nonprofit that raises funds to support education and research for women’s health.
Uterine prolapse is a condition in which the support of the uterus breaks down and the uterus begins to descend down the vaginal canal.
Uterine prolapse, when mild and not causing symptoms, is extremely common in women who have had vaginal deliveries. In some cases, the uterine prolapse can descend to the point that it is in the lower vagina or outside of the vaginal opening, and at that point, it may become symptomatic and an intervention may be needed. This occurs much less commonly, but uterine prolapse is one of the primary indications for hysterectomy. Uterine prolapse accounts for around 10 percent of the approximately 600,000 hysterectomies done yearly in the United States.
There is no single cause of uterine prolapse; it is what we call in medicine "multi-factorial," which means it's dependent on a number of factors or causes. That said, women who have had more vaginal deliveries with prolonged labor are generally more likely to develop uterine prolapse (as well as other types of prolapse). When the prolapsed uterus becomes symptomatic—which basically means that the patient is feeling the prolapse near the opening or outside the opening of the vaginal canal—treatment should be considered.
There are two treatment options. One involves inserting a pessary, which is a silicone object similar to a diaphragm, in the vaginal canal with the goal of keeping the uterus where it should be. The second option is to surgically remove or suspend the uterus.
Uterine prolapse symptoms can begin with lower back pain, as the ligaments that hold the uterus up are stretched. Ultimately, the most common symptom is the feeling of the uterus protruding down the vaginal canal and near or outside the opening. A woman may feel the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. This feels different from vaginal wall prolapse from the bladder or rectum, because the cervix has a firm consistency, like the tip of your nose. A prolapse of the bladder or rectum will feel much softer, more like a water balloon.
Once a patient is more than 12 weeks pregnant, the uterus is high up in the pelvis. So, in general, uterine prolapse gets better with pregnancy. However, after delivery, when the uterus comes back down to normal size, there is a high likelihood that it will reoccur.
Uterine prolapse is actually a chronic condition, which means that the support of the uterus breaks down over time—typically years—leading to the cervix presenting at or beyond the opening of the vagina.
There’s no evidence that wearing a belly wrap postpartum for a limited period of time contributes to this condition. Belly compression in general is not known to be correlated with the development of prolapse. Hospitals have been providing postpartum women with versions of belly wraps for decades. If there was a correlation with prolapse, this would have been observed and documented in medical literature.
There are no absolute contraindications for wearing a belly wrap, short of pain possibly from a C-section scar or other reasons.
Shop all Belly Bandit Belly Wraps
Uterine prolapse only needs to be treated if it is symptomatic and we don’t know the natural history. So, just because a doctor tells you your uterus has dropped doesn’t mean that you will ultimately require surgery—it just needs to be tracked. Many times, the prolapse does not worsen. If it does need to be treated, the only non-surgical treatment for uterine prolapse is a vaginal pessary. Kegel exercises will not actually cause the uterus to be more supported; they may create a perception that your vagina is better supported and thus make the uterine prolapse less symptomatic, but the exercises can’t actually pull the uterus back up into the vagina. The other form of treatment is either a hysterectomy or a uterine suspension.
The best way to strengthen the pelvic floor is to isolate the pelvic floor muscles. Because these are deep muscles and surrounded by large muscle groups, such as the buttocks, thighs, and abdominals, they are difficult to isolate. A pelvic floor physical therapist or a pelvic floor device can help you isolate these muscles in a better way. Once you learn to isolate them, they should be worked out just like any other muscle group that you are trying to strengthen. But again, it’s so important to ensure you are isolating the appropriate muscles. When patients say they’ve tried Kegels and it hasn’t helped, it’s usually because they are not addressing the correct muscle group.
Many women will develop some postpartum incontinence that will improve significantly as the pelvis heals from the delivery. If the incontinence persists after that point, it will require evaluation. There are two forms of incontinence: one is urinary stress incontinence, which causes leaks with coughing, straining, and exercising, and the other is caused by an overactive bladder that leads to incontinence (where you can’t make it to the bathroom in time). These are two completely different issues and require completely different treatments. If you’re experiencing leaking after childbirth, consult with a urogynecologist, as they specialize in treating women with incontinence.
One way to live confidently while dealing with life's little leaks? Stylish, powerful leak proof underwear from Proof®, our sister brand, in a range of styles and absorbencies. Try them risk-free for 60 days!
Free gifts, exclusive deals, and VIP treatment
Please note: we currently do not offer free shipping from bellybandit.com to addresses outside the USA
Select your country
Sign up for VIP flash sales, free gifts and giveaways!
How would you like to send a gift?
Holds up to 1/2 Regular Tampon
or 1/2 Teaspoon of Liquid
panty liner replacement
Holds up to 1 Regular Tampon
or 2 Teaspoons of Liquid
Holds up to 2 Regular Tampons
or 4 Teaspoons of Liquid
moderate bladder leaks
Holds up to 4 Regular Tampons
or 8 Teaspoons of Liquid
substantial bladder leaks
Holds up to 5 Regular Tampons
or 10 Teaspoons of Liquid
maximum overnight protection