Feel Like You Are Coughing Your Guts Out?
By Sherrie Palm

It’s flu season; you’re hacking and hacking until you feel like your bottom end is going to blow out. And it just might be. if you’re like me you start to ramp up the germ-phoebe aspect of your personality around this time of year. We all start paying more attention to washing our hands, get nervous about grabbing the door at stores where we shop, walk the other way when we hear someonecoughing. No one wants to get a cold or the flu. Yet despite the extra protective measures we take, we somehow manage to contract something. The majority of us are exposed to hundreds of germ infested surfaces every day; there’s just no way to get around it beyond wrapping ourselves in one of those protective bubbles. Not a very user friendly way to avoid getting sick.

 I recently returned from a trip overseas and had concerns about being in airplanes and airports, knowing that the odds of my catching a bug were increased by being exposed to so many people in an enclosed environment. Every time someone coughed on the plane I thought to myself “keep your hands off your face, keep your hands off your face,” reciting it to myself like some kind of magical mantra that would protect me. Although I felt badly for the young child coughing non-stop a few rows up from me on the airbus, I equally worried that somehow the germs would float back to me in the recycled air of the plane.

Somehow I managed to make the long journey in both directions and come home with my body flu-free. Lucky me, I figured now I could relax. Then the inevitable happened-a friend came over, sat at my kitchen table with his stuffy head and post-nasal drip and I picked up his bug. Standard operating procedure-take all necessary precautions when traveling and then come home and relax into germ-land. Serves me right for letting my guard down and returning to my hands-on-my-face bad habits.

As I was coughing (and coughing and coughing), I got to thinking I should revisit how coughing impacts women with POP. Although chronic coughing is a known cause of POP, coughing related to a respiratory condition orsmoker’s cough typically lingers for years, whereas virus related coughing typically comes on fast and hard, leaving you scrambling for answers. Every time very time you cough your internal organs are pushing down into your vaginal canal. If you don’t believe me, cup your hand in your crotch area the next time you feel a cough coming on. You will feel the downward pushing of the internal organs and tissues. If you are like most women with POP, on top of a scratchy throat, tight chest, runny nose, aches, and/or fever, you are also dealing with the pressure down below which is magnified every time you cough. During a coughing jag, you may feel like your guts are coming out the bottom end on the front side, back side, or both.

Women who've navigated POP for years typically have a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to navigating symptoms. Bend at the Waist/Cross the Knees is a technique many of us both on the surgical repair and non-surgical treatment sides of the fence use and one I've used for so many years, it is now a deeply embedded habit. When I feel a cough or sneeze coming on, I automatically go into bend/cross position.  I highly recommend women who have not tried this technique experiment to see if it helps. The needs of women with POP vary considerably because we navigate different POP types, degrees of severity, and treatments, but there is no harm caused by this technique so the next time you are coughing your head off, give it a go.

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