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 we shop at, walk the other way when we hear someone  coughing. No one wants to get the flu. Yet despite the extra protective measures we take, we somehow manage to contract it. 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 mention something about how coughing impacts women with POP. Although chronic coughing is a known cause of POP, that impact is from a cough related to a respiratory condition or women who have a smoker’s cough that lingers for years. I’d like to make some suggestions for women who have a cough related to the cold/flu season.For women with POP, every 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. Many women with POP choose treatment options rather than surgery; there are also many women with POP in milder grades that are in a monitoring stage. For these women, it is important that when possible, you actually follow through with placing that hand-in-the-crotch area when you feel coughing coming on. I’ve gotten into the habit of turning away from people when coughing (a polite gesture no matter what), bending at the waist a bit when coughing, and cupping my hand firmly between my legs to support my pelvic floor as much as possible. I’ve had surgery for my POP, but I feel a lifetime of maintenance with any health issue just makes sense. People will be so happy you turn away from them when you cough they won’t even notice your hand is on your crotch. Trust me-I’ve tried this in public. Help others-help yourself. 


September 2010