Don’t lift heavy loads…Physiotherapist cautions women

Women have been advised against lifting heavy loads and engaging in activities that put strain on their pelvic muscle.

“Women tend to have a lot of health-related problems which are not given the needed attention due to a number of socioeconomic commitments they make for themselves and their families,” Ms Anna Hughton, a Physiotherapist and Clinic Director at the Accra Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic said in an interview with The Spectator.

She said that, even where there were abnormal signs some women ‘put them aside’ and went about their usual daily activities.

The pelvic area, she said, “is one of the sections where women have problems and prolapse is one of the conditions.”

Prolapse, she explained, was when “the pelvic organ which supports the uterus, bladder and other organs, gets out of place and starts to drop beyond the normal place where it is supposed to be.”

This condition, she said, could be mild or severe and could emerge as a result of child birth or when women put excessive strain on the pelvic muscle. 

Causes

Stressing on a number of causes of the prolapse she said, “Frequently straining while trying to pick heavy loads, a lot of pushing during the delivery process and pregnancy with a heavy baby can put pressure on the pelvic floor and make it weak to cause a prolapse.”

Whilst menopausal women could be exposed to prolapse due to a reduction in the hormones that straighten the pelvic floor muscle, some lifestyle activities such as heavy smoking associated with constant cough could also predispose one to having a prolapse.

 A heavy smoker who coughs constantly strains the pelvic floor making it weaken; she stressed”.

Being obese can cause general weakness including a weakened pelvic floor because the weight of the body and the abdomen can put pressure on the pelvic floor and contribute to prolapse.

Unexpectedly, women who also generally do not engage in exercises to keep the pelvic floor strong are likely to have a prolapse because “the pelvic floor is what supports the uterus, the bladder and the rectum so if it weakens, any of these organs can also drop,” Ms Hughton said.

Constipation coupled with not having good bowel movement she stated, could lead to prolapse and explained that “this happens when one strains constantly to free the bowel, overtime, the pelvic floor is weakened and can also cause a prolapse.”

Symptoms

She gave some symptoms of prolapse as: A feeling of pressure or heaviness in the pelvic area, if you stand, you can see a bulge; urinary problems such as leaking of urine or a chronic urge to urinate; a feeling that something is coming out of the vagina; Constipation among others.

What to do

Depending on the level of the condition, pelvic floor exercises could help at the early stages of prolapse.

  1. Avoid the lifting of heavy things or an activity that increases the pressure on the pelvic floor.
  2. Maintain a balance between the abdominal pressure and the pelvic floor pressure and refrain from activities that strain the pelvic floor muscle.
  3. Pelvic floor muscle exercise can help and it can help also during delivery, maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking.
  4. Women who experience such conditions should visit a qualified physiotherapist.

By Portia Hutton-Mills

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