• Tony Bosworth

It's Pelvic Organ Prolapse Awareness month – the childbirth trauma you may never have heard of

It’s odds on if you’ve never suffered from Pelvic Organ Prolapse you probably know very little about it, but that needs to change, says a Kurmond mother of two who wants to raise awareness of the condition.

Bronwyn Ford from Kurmond recently appeared as a guest on the SBS Insight episode Giving Birth Better: what are the impacts of birth trauma and what can we do better?

The TV episode featured discussion about birth trauma and the affects of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).

“POP is the biggest secret in women’s health,” Mrs Ford told the Post.

POP has been on the medical record for almost 4000 years. When structural tissues of the female pelvic floor cannot effectively support the organs or tissues (uterus, bladder, rectum, the top of the vagina post hysterectomy, and/or intestines), they can descend into and then protrude out of the vaginal canal. This can cause devastating symptoms related to women’s urinary, defecatory, and sexual health.

“Shrouded in silence, we must take a proactive stance to lift the shroud of silence and educate women ahead of the curve,” says Mrs Ford.

The most common causes of POP are childbirth and menopause – two of the most significant life events women experience.

Research reveals as many as 50 per cent of women will experience POP in their lifetime, yet women are rarely informed of POP or screened for it ahead of the birth, despite childbirth and menopause being the leading causes.

Mrs Ford said the topic needed to be talked about and had to come out of the folder labelled taboo.

“I started experiencing the symptoms of POP in the years following the births of my two children,” Mrs Ford said.

“I did not realise that as the years progressed the symptoms I was experiencing were indicative of Pelvic Organ Prolapse and that the physical birth injuries I had suffered were contributing to its progression. I just didn’t know!”

Mrs Ford is active in getting the message across. She’s an Admin of the Australian Women Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Incontinence Support Group on Facebook, and has shared her own journey with POP publicly on her own Facebook page – see here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012176355944

She also points to a petition underway through the Australasian Birth Trauma Association requesting the government subsidise visits to physiotherapists for birthing women.

“If I had been given the knowledge of and the opportunity to see a physiotherapist during pregnancy and afterwards, and a rehabilitation program commenced then, maybe 17 years later my Prolapses would not have progressed to the extent that they did and I may have been able to avoid major surgery. “What we really need now is to raise mainstream awareness, to be able to talk about it openly without shame, just like we do with other health issues such as heart health, diabetes, breast cancer and prostate cancer, for example,” Mrs Ford said.

Here’s a link to the petition: https://www.change.org/p/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp-pelvic-health-physiotherapists-to-support-birthing-women

Picture by Flora Westbrook

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