Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is common. Very, very common. The more babies you have and the older you get will increase your chances of experience POP. You might have only one prolapse or (like me) you’ll have a couple. And don’t think for a second that avoiding having babies or scheduling a cesarean section will get you out of the POP lottery – things like repetitive heavy lifting, obesity, chronic constipation, weak tissues can all lead you down the POP path.
But what good does it do something experiencing POP to know about how common it is or what the risk factors are? Not one fucking thing. Because experiencing POP is sad and lonely, sometimes painful depending on what you’ve got coming down and out of your lady parts. Right from when we are little girls we’re taught to be ashamed of our genitals. Our health classes in high school – if we’re lucky to have any – teach us about the mechanics of sex, how to avoid pregnancy, and the names of the major part of our genital organs, but not one word is spoken about dysfunction or the importance of healthy and strong pelvic floor musculature.
Speaking as a woman who went through four years of high school sex ed, I was pretty shocked about how little I actually knew about my lady parts until they didn’t function properly. Perineum? Wtf is that? Isn’t that something only men have? Whaddya mean it’s not all called a vagina? I had a baby and I can’t help but fart uncontrollably. . . .isn’t that normal? You could fill several stadiums with what I didn’t know. Sure, I knew a ton about dicks and balls and man ‘taints but I knew zip about my own lady parts.
We are isolated by the stigma of POP and our own expectations of politeness. It isn’t good manners to talk about our broken vaginas make some of us suicidal, depressed, and pretty damn sad or how we piss our pants when we laugh, can’t hold in our farts, or leave shit streaks on our underwear no matter how long or hard we wipe. We have our spouses, sometimes very close friends to confide in – and even then the friends and spouses get angry or annoyed by our constant, ever present sadness because we cannot.get.over.it. POP makes you symptomatic, some days are better and some days are terrible. But either way, you live with constant restrictions and your quality of life sucks.
I have deep, unwavering sadness from a chronic condition that makes normal life pretty much impossible. Baby wear my flat headed baby? Nope, can’t do that. Carry in the groceries? Can’t do that either. Pick up and console my 35lb toddler? Off the list, because mama’s bladder is trying to quit her body. It’s fucking depressing. I can’t conversation, positive think, or anti-depressant my way out of having no quality of life. And unless you’re a urogynecologist and can help me resolve this, you can’t do shit either. Even in a closed online community of POP ladies I am alone, as are they because we are all experiencing something slightly different.
This is what I want you to understand: I don’t have post-partum depression. I suspect many women with POP don’t either. But I get how it’s easy to slap a PPD diagnosis on someone who has lost the will to live because she has zero quality of life.
So to you, my loves, who are feeling like hurting yourself because you can’t live another day like this: I get where you are at and please stay with us. Reach out for help if you can, or ask someone you trust to reach out on your behalf. If you just need to talk then start here, deal with the emotional crisis then work on the physical one. Find your tribe on Facebook. You are loved, you are wanted, you are more than a broken vagina.