Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a lot more common than many realize. Many women who are referred to pelvic floor therapy with a diagnosis of POP are experiencing a multitude of emotions. A very common statement includes “I have never heard of such a thing.” Yet once you do a little research you will find statistics such as:

  • As many as 50% of women who have given birth one or more times have some degree of genital prolapse, but only 10 to 20% experience symptoms.28 55
  • At whole, the lifetime risk for women undergoing surgery for repair of POP is 11%. 27% percent of women have repeat surgery. 29
  • Approximately half of all women over age 50 complain of symptoms associated with prolapse. 28 55
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse affects an estimated 3.3 million women in the United States. 66
  • It is estimated that the incidence of women with POP will increase by 46%. 66
  • It is estimated from 2010 to 2050, the total number of women undergoing surgery for POP will increase by 48.2%. 71


There are a group of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles, aptly named since they sit at the bottom of the pelvis. They serve several very important roles one of which is support. They help create the sling of support for the bladder, uterus and bowel. They are intricately connected with fascia (connective tissue) and ligaments. They “sling” from the front of the pelvis at the pubic bone to the back of the pelvis at the sacrum and tailbone. These muscles are commonly overstretched and damaged or changed with the traumas commonly occurring in pregnancy, vaginal delivery and surgeries. Yet they are muscles and can be healed and retrained. However they but are dependent on several factors. Postural alignment, food and fluid intake and body mechanics especially with movement transitions such as bending, lifting can either help or hinder the successful work of these muscles. Tension in the upper abdomen such as can occur with chronic low back pain, constipation, or over-corrections of one’s posture can increase downward pressure on the floor and organs creating a dysfunction in the muscles’ ability to positively support the abdominal contents. Pelvic floor therapy focuses on re-educating the muscles through hands on techniques as well as posture and movement education. Most importantly the focus is on educating you on how to incorporate new and healthy ways to allow for improved function of these muscles and therefore improved the overall quality of your health.

by Denise Nichols, OTR/L