Pelvic Organ Prolapse is a physical condition in women where one or more of the organs in the pelvic area are “falling down” into the vagina. Organs that prolapse into the vaginal area include the bladder, uterus, rectum and urethra. Natural remedies for pelvic organ prolapse include herbs, supplements, appropriate exercise and physical therapy.
Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Cystocele (bladder prolapse)
- Rectocele (rectum prolapse)
- Enterocele (small intestine prolapse)
- Uterine prolapse (prolapse of the uterus)
- Urethrocyle (prolapse of the urethra)
What Causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is common in woman who have had multiple pregnancies, difficult childbirths, surgeries, and estrogen deficiencies. Pelvic organ prolapse may first occur during pregnancy. It can also begin after childbirth or during menopause.
Chronic coughing from allergies, smoking, or lung disease can create undue stress to the pelvic organs and can cause prolapse. Regular heavy lifting or chronic constipation can also put too much strain on muscles in the pelvic area, resulting in prolapse.
What are the symptoms of POP?
Some women do not notice symptoms at all. Other women will be told they have a prolapse when they have a routine ob/gyn exam.
Unfortunately, many women have chronic uncomfortable symptoms from a prolapse including back or groin pain, pressure in the pelvic area, the feeling that something is coming out of the vagina, painful intercourse or spotting and bleeding.
What are the Treatment Options for POP?
Surgery is commonly recommended for pelvic organ prolapse. However, the success rate of the surgery is not as high as one might hope and surgery is sometimes needed again after several years. Even with surgery, a woman needs to be careful not the have the prolapse reoccur. A mesh is surgically inserted to hold up the organs. Not all bodies take well to having foreign material in the body. There have been instances of recall for the mesh that is used for prolapse surgery.
In the case of uterine prolapse, a hysterectomy is sometimes performed. Unfortunately, this addresses a symptom (prolapsing uterus) but not the cause (weak pelvic floor muscles) and after the uterus is removed, sometimes something else prolapses in its place. Vaginal vault prolapse and enterocyle can occur following a hysterectomy.
A pessary is a non surgical treatment for POP. A pessary is a device that is inserted in the vagina to hold up the organs. Some pessaries are inserted by a gyn and left to do their work for months. Others can be taken out by the woman with a POP and reinserted. Pessaries have been used for this problem for generations. Some women find them uncomfortable, however. There may also be an increased risk of vaginal or bladder infections when a pessary is used.
Natural Remedies for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
If you suspect that you have a pelvic organ prolapse, it is wise to confirm the diagnosis with your doctor to make sure that is what you are dealing with.
Herbs for Prolapse
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf has been a primary female tonic for centuries. It helps to tone the pelvic organs. Used daily in a tea red raspberry leaf can bring reduce symptoms of prolapse. 2-4 cups of strongly brewed red raspberry leaf tea, consumed daily, can help with prolapse and overall women’s health. Red raspberry leaf tincture or capsules are not recommended. Alcohol tinctures do not extract the healing properties from red raspberry leaf very well, whereas water, via tea, is excellent for extracting them. The body will not be able to extract the medicinal properties from encapsulated red raspberry leaf as well as water.
Horsetail is an herb, not the hair from the tail of a horse. Horsetail, also known as shavegrass, is useful for a variety of bladder and kidney problems, including prolapse. The silicon content helps the building of cells. Horsetail can help with kidney and bladder stones, infections and inflammation in the urinary system. According to herbalist Philip Fritchey,1 horsetail, when used over longer periods of time, may deplete B vitamins. A B complex supplement is a useful supplement anyway but may be especially wise to use if you use horsetail on a regular basis.
Nutmeg is sometimes taken internally to relieve prolapse symptoms. However, this herb is not commonly used among herbalists and there is a dearth of information about its long term use or side effects. It is not to be used during pregnancy.
Because of the limited availability of information about the medicinal use of nutmeg, nutmeg should be used cautiously for prolapse problems. It may be a useful short term solution while you are working out better long term solutions for healing your prolapse.
Comfrey is an herb that is used to heal tissue. It promotes cell regeneration. Its internal use is controversial, though the tea of the leaves has been used for healing by herbalists for a very long time. Comfrey can be made into a salve however, and used intravaginally for a similar benefit.
Horse Chestnut is made into a cream for toning. It is used for varicose veins and can be used for prolapse as well.
You can make your own salve out of horse chestnut and comfrey since this may be very difficult to find on the market, but is quite easy to make yourself.
Recipe for Salve for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Fill a pint jar with dry comfrey leaf and broken up/dried horse chestnuts.
- Cover the herbs and nut with olive oil.
- Put a lid on your jar.
- Place the jar in a crock pot on a wash cloth (to keep from cracking the jar) and fill the crock pot with water.
- Keep the water level below the rim of the jar so water does not get into your oil extract.
- Put the lid on the crock pot and keep your crock pot on the “warm” setting for 3 days.
- Add more water to the crock pot (not the oil and herb mixture) as needed.
- Strain out the oil.
- You can melt some beeswax into the oil to make a salve, or use the oil extract as it is.
- If you wish to add beeswax, add a tablespoon of grated beeswax for every 4 ounces of oil extract and melt this. The crock pot method will work well for this. Do not use a microwave.
Vitamins for Prolapse
Vitamin C and D are both important for your body to regenerate tissue. Both are supportive of your immune system and will help you to stave off infections that are common to those with POP. Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen.
Your skin, connective tissue, and support structures in your body need collagen, a protein. Taking a collagen supplement will ensure that muscles that support your pelvic organs have this needed protein for tissue strength and repair. A great source of collagen and other nutrients to nourish the support structures of your body is bone broth.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Women with POP find that urinary tract infections are more common. It can be difficult to completely empty the bladder if it is out of place or other prolapsing organs are causing it to be displaced. Regular use of apple cider vinegar can help prevent bladder infections.
Adding a teaspoon or two to a glass of water 5 days a week is a common way to include apple cider vinegar into the daily routine.
Women who first experience prolapse during menopause or pre-menopause may be experiencing this due to the low levels of progesterone in the body. Hormone balancing may bring a measure of relief to prolapse problems.
Natural remedies for hormone balancing include borax, natural progesterone cream, vitex, dong quai, black cohosh, and wild ram root.
Exercise is important, but it must be done correctly or you could make your prolapse worse.
Think of your pelvic organs being supported by a hammock. You have muscles that act as this hammock. With a prolapse, your muscle hammock is overstretched and weak and isn’t supporting your organs well. If you do exercises that push down on the weak hammock, you will make the problem worse. High impact exercises, exercises with jumping up and down, running, jump roping etc. will all be stressing the “hammock.”
The very best exercise for prolapse is swimming. Swimming will give you resistance for getting a good workout while supporting the organs that are compromised. It allows you to strengthen your core muscles without putting undue stress on your pelvic organs and surrounding tissue.
Walking is a good exercise for prolapse. It is best to walk early in the day before muscles are tired and your prolapse may be worse. Walking down steep hills can put extra pressure on your pelvic organs so choose your terrain with that in mind.
What about Kegel exercises?
Some midwives and doctors recommend kegels to prevent or heal prolapse problems. However, once you have a prolapse, sometimes kegels are no longer recommended because they end up causing a downward muscle pressure that makes the prolapse worse. Ideally you will find a doctor or midwife that is experienced with helping women with prolapse problems who can work with you. If you do kegel exercises, you will want to be doing them correctly.
There are also special physical therapists who work with women with POP. They can help you learn to do exercises that will not aggravate your prolapse and make sure you are doing them correctly.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, and especially if you have extra weight around the middle, this extra weight causes additional stress to the pelvic organs. Losing weight can reduce the stress on these organs, which can reduce the severity of the prolapse.
Pay Attention to Posture
Poor posture puts undue stress on your pelvic muscles.
You can use an exercise ball to improve your balance and sitting posture. Get a ball that will allow you to sit on the ball with your feet on the floor. Your knees should be a little lower than your hips. Use the ball instead of a chair for a few minutes a day and increase the length of time you use the ball. Some people use an exercise ball instead of a desk chair because it is comfortable and helps with posture!
Wearing high heels can cause a prolapse or make it worse. The long term wearing of high heels contributes to poor posture and undue stress on the pelvic floor. Wear well supporting and comfortable shoes when you wear shoes.
Constipation can cause prolapse problems and it can make prolapse problems worse. Constipation is a stress to your pelvic organs when you try to eliminate. Do address your constipation problem. There are many effective natural remedies for this problem.
Do you have a natural remedy for pelvic organ prolapse? Were you able to avoid surgery? We would love to hear from you!
- Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey