Is My Vagina Normal?

How to spot postpartum prolapse and what to do about it.

Is My Vagina Normal?

While we all love a cute baby, there’s a lot of unpleasant side affects from pushing one out of your vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) -- when your organs (bladder, uterus, or rectum) shift in position and then bulge into (or out of) your vaginal canal -- can be one of them. In fact, vaginal birth is one of leading causes of POP.

Say what? I read the part about organs bulging out but what does that really mean? Between the bladder, the uterus, and the rectum lies connective tissue. Think of this connective tissue as bookends, helping to keep the organs in their position. When the connective tissue becomes weak, the bookends fall behind on their job and the books (or organs) begin to collapse into onto another.


Who gets POP?

The truth is, POP Is way more common than you think. In fact, either you or your best friend probably has it (especially if you’ve gone though childbirth or menapause) because 50 percent of women have some degree of POP. Yup, half of us women have experienced this. How do you know if you’re one of them?

Many women don't have any symptoms of POP. And many others suffer silently with symptoms they don't understand. Those who do have symptoms may feel vaginal fullness or pressure or as if a tampon is falling out. This pressure often gets more pronounced later in the day. Some women complain of not being able to fully void their bladder or bowels or of uncomfortable sex. And of course, when you don’t recognize the cause of symptoms, your minds can be your worst enemy, imagining the most negative scenario.

So why does it happen?

One of the jobs of the pelvic floor/core is to balance the pressures above it, namely intraabdominal pressure. Anything that increases the pressure in our abdomen (straining in the bathroom, heavy lifting or over challenging exercise, prolonged coughing) can overwhelm the pelvic floor muscles when they lack coordination and the ability to counter the pressures above it. And your pelvic floor is particularly vulnerable postpartum.

The pelvic floor fatigues long before the heart or lungs during exercise. Pelvic floor damage can happen when the pelvic floor fatigues in a workout. Repeated rises of intra-abdominal pressure or even one sudden, heavy episode may result in POP in some women.

When it comes to postpartum, returning to high impact exercise or lifting heavy weights before regaining pelvic floor muscle strength and postural alignment postpartum results in more strain and damage to pre-weakened muscles, supporting ligaments and connective tissue.

Is there hope for me?

There are both conservative and surgical options for correcting prolapse. Pelvic floor therapy can help balance the muscular support against the internal pressure system above it and also help you learn strategies for protecting yourself during daily habits that can exacerbate the pressure (lifting up baby, going from sit to stand, etc). Pessaries are another conservative option made of medical-grade silicone that you insert into your vagina. It provides support to the connective tissue compromised “bookend.” There are also numerous surgical options can help POP such as abdominal repair, transvaginal repairs, robotic repairs, laparoscopic repairs, etc.

But the most positive approach we can take is to increase awareness to enable women to recognize POP symptoms when they first occur or better yet, ways to decrease the likelihood of it happening. When POP becomes common knowledge, it will become more readily identifiable and women will be able to seek earlier, less aggressive treatment. Knowledge is power; share this information with your girlfriends, sisters, colleagues and family.

Image source.


In This Article

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week? All things maternity fashion, mama.

    Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

    Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

    Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

    Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

    Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

    Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play