- Carolyn Sayre, from New York City, was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) when she was only 28 years old
- The trauma of a second childbirth caused the muscles and tissues that supported her pelvic organs to collapse
- Carolyn said her condition was so advanced that her bladder started to protrude outside of her body
A mother-of-two has revealed the shame and depression she faced after her vagina started falling out of her body following the birth of her second child.
Carolyn Sayre, a science and health writer living in New York City, was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) when she was only 28 years old. The condition occurs when one or more organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum, shift downward and bulge into or even out of a woman's vaginal canal.
The trauma of a second childbirth had caused the muscles and tissues that form a supportive hammock for my pelvic organs to collapse,' Carolyn explained in an essay for Self.com. 'Since my disorder was so advanced, my bladder was actually beginning to protrude outside of my body.'
The next day she met with her obstetrician who diagnosed her with a pelvic floor disorder, which plagues as many as one-third of women, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Carolyn said that for the next few weeks it felt like she was 'constantly sitting on an egg'.
'Every time I lifted my newborn or squatted down on the floor with my three-year-old I could feel my organs slipping out of me,' she wrote.
Carolyn went on to say that because of her condition her bladder never felt empty, and she would often leak urine and sometimes even feces.
She admitted that like most women with the disorder, she felt 'ashamed', by her physical ailment, but she eventually went to see a urogynecologist specializing in POP. After a physical exam in which he asked her to push and tighten her vaginal muscles while his fingers were in her vagina and rectum, he advised her to start seeing a physical therapist who teaches women how to 'strengthen their pelvic floor'.
Common: The mother-of-two (pictured) said her second childbirth caused the muscles and tissues supporting her pelvic organs to collapse. As many as one-third of women suffer from some form of a pelvic floor disorder
Although some women's POP can fix itself over time after incorporating exercise and high-fiber foods into their diets, Carolyn's doctor didn't believe her condition would resolve from lifestyle changes alone.
Carolyn's surgical options include having a sling made out of mesh inserted inside her to hold up her bladder and rectum and a hysterectomy to remove her uterus. For the time being, Carolyn said he gave her a pessary, a removable plastic ring that is placed into the vagina to support the uterus or bladder and rectum and help decrease urine leakage.
And while her husband wanted to be there for her at her doctor's appointment, Carolyn said she was too embarrassed - even after 10 years and two children together - to let him see her in this condition.
A week later, she met with her physical therapist, who assure Carolyn that she had helped many women with POP improve their condition. She also noted that she didn't want her patient to even 'say the word hysterectomy for at least six months'.
'And just like that, this woman I had never met before became my va-jay-jay coach,' she wrote.
Carolyn explained that during their sessions her physical therapist would insert her fingers into her vagina to see how she could control her pelvic floor while teaching her floor exercises to help tighten her core.
Feeling ashmed: Carolyn said she was too embarrassed - even after 10 years and two children together - to let her husband come with her to meet with a urogynecologist specializing in POP
The mother-of-two, who was given approval from her doctor to have sex, tried to be intimate with her husband after her session, but found herself 'bone dry' and found 'sex unappealing' for the first time in their relationship.
Not only was her self-esteem 'shattered', but the next day she took out her pessary and found 'green discharge everywhere', revealing that she had developed an infection.
Because she felt like she was unable to control her own body, Carolyn threw herself into researching medical journals and studies about POP in the hopes of finding a way to treat her condition.
After she learned that overweight women have a great chance of developing pelvic floor disorders, she said she became 'unhealthily obsessed with food and exercise' and soon went from a size ten to a size four.
Carolyn said she tried to hide her depression from her family and friends, often cracking jokes about her condition, but on the inside she was starting to fall apart.
The mom said she 'hit rock bottom' the day her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter walked in on her while she was getting changed asked why her 'lady parts looked like they had a tongue'.
Carolyn recalled that when she started crying on the floor, her daughter told her: 'I never saw a grown-up cry before.'
Overcoming adversity: Although Carolyn said she will most likely have to have surgery in the future, she no longer lets her condition control her anymore
She went on to use the moment as a learning opportunity for her daughter, telling her that people's imperfections are what make them unique.
And in her own way, her little girl understood, explaining to Carolyn that she wished she didn't have curly hair because all of the Disney princesses have straight hair.
'I realized that this precocious little human had given me what I needed most: empathy,' Carolyn said. 'She was not trying to fix me like my husband, make light of the situation like my friends, or tiptoe around the problem like my relatives. She was simply telling me she understood.'
Carolyn said that over the next six months it was her desire to be a good role model for her daughter that helped her overcome her feelings of embarrassment and despair over her situation.
Her core and pelvic muscles became stronger, and with the help of lubricant, she was able to have sex and achieve orgasms that were 'better and longer' than before thanks to her stronger pelvic muscles.
And while Carolyn said she still struggles and knows surgery is most likely still in her future, she doesn't let her condition control her anymore.
'When I look in the mirror, I no longer see a broken woman,' she said. 'When my husband says I look beautiful, I not only believe he means it, but I feel beautiful inside.'
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