Tammy Wynette was right. Sometimes it is hard to be a woman. For instance, did you know that you uterus can fall down? I didn't, not until it happened to my mom.
The medical term for this condition is uterine prolapse. The definition is as follows:
The uterus is normally attached to the pelvic floor. However, the supportive muscles and ligaments can wear and tear during life, allowing the uterus, the bladder or both to "fall" down to the vagina. The reasons for prolapse may be one or more of the following:
-- giving birth to large babies, or difficult labor and delivery in general,
-- less estrogen than usual (as in menopause), which weakens the tissues,
-- additional weight or obesity,
-- frequent coughing, say from too much smoking,
-- chronic constipation and the straining to move bowels.
Aren't you glad you know this now?
Yeah, me neither. Ignorance IS bliss.
My mom had to deal with this a few years ago before she was living with me. I remember her calling me up and telling me about it.
ME: What do you mean it fell down? Why are your innards moving?
MOM: It's just something that happens with older ladies. Your Aunt Joyce had it too.
ME: What sort of symptoms did you have?
MOM: I had to pee all the time and it felt sort of...heavy down there. Hard to describe it. Also, when I got a mirror and looked up there I could see it hanging in there.
The doctor told my mom she could either have a hysterectomy, or a surgical procedure to tack the uterus back up to where it's supposed to be. She chose the surgical procedure and it all went smoothly. I'd (mercifully) forgotten about the whole thing until last week when she was moving furniture around - she's never happy with the way the living room looks - and she let out a groan.
ME: Mom, are you okay? Did you hurt your back?
MOM: No, it's my uterus. I think it fell down again!
She went off to lie down and after resting a while, decided she was okay. Her doctor told her to quit moving furniture though, so now she wants me to do it. Hell no!! Now I'm super paranoid that my uterus will plunge to the floor at any moment.
Maybe it has started to slip already and I'm just not aware of it. How do I know what my uterus feels like? How can you differentiate between it and say...your pancreas? Guts are guts, right? (Although sometimes I can swear I feel my liver throbbing, but that's usually only after a long night of drinking and debauchery.)The thing is, it happened to my mother and it happened to my aunt. Is it inevitable that it will happen to me? Is there anything I can do to prevent this? And how come no one ever prepares you for this stuff? It's just another one of those nasty surprises that you get to discover for yourself once you hit thirty, like facial hair and spider veins.
Now that I'm thinking about it, one person from my youth did sort of discuss uterine care. You see, when I was about fourteen my mom signed me up for a modeling/charm school/beauty class - no it wasn't Barbizon - taught by a lady named Nell. Apparently she'd been a model way, way back in the days when men wore an onion tied to their belt and nickles had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. We're talking old! I'm not sure what those classes cost but it must have been cheap since we didn't have much money then. I think Nell was also my mother's Avon lady.
Oh boy, I should do a seperate post about that class it was so bizarre! Nell was about seventy and looked like Cindy McCain if Cindy had gotten a bad facelift and wore bright blue eyeshadow with gunky false lashes that resembled taratulas. She often smelled very peculiar. I used to think maybe she had drenched herself with some strong weird perfume, but now I realize that smell was Gin. I wouldn't doubt the bitch was three sheets to the wind the whole time. That would explain a lot of her advice.
Anyway, I've repressed most of that experience but do recall one day when she was giving a lecture on keeping fit. She said we could walk or ride a bicycle but should never - under any circumstances - run, jump rope, or lift weights, because that kind of exercise was too jarring and would make our lady parts fall down.
The ominous way she said the words "fall down" combined with her grim look and tight lipped frown made it clear that this was a bad, bad thing. It instantly scared me. I wasn't too sure what falling lady parts entailed but I wasn't about to ask for clarification. I just thanked the heavens that I was too lazy to ever exercise. The rest of the class must have felt the same way. No one inquired for further explanation.
Only one girl timidly raised her hand and asked if that meant she should quit the track team. Nell told her yes, that she should quit immediately or she might not ever be able to have children. Then a Color Me Beautiful expert came into the class with a bunch of color swatches to help us figure out what season we were -hey, it was the eighties - and Nell ducked out, presumably for a couple of stiff Martinis.
Well huh, who would have thought it but that dire warning might have been the only helpful advice the old bat ever gave. (Well, besides her recommendation not to wear any white brighter than your teeth, which limits me to a pale yellow.) I just googled "uterine prolapse/running" and it turns out that it can sometimes be caused by excessive running. Here's a link if you care to find out more.
As for me, after doing a bunch of research about it I've decided there's really no use worrying about my uterus too much. I mean, I'm still going to do kegels like they are going out of style and I ain't gonna move any furniture anytime soon, but if it falls, it falls. I'll just get surgery if it does. Or else start drinking Gin. Maybe both. Glug, glug!