Are you suffering from a prolapsed bladder?
If so, you might find it reassuring to hear that prolapse of the bladder is quite common and affects 2-3% of the female population. It’s estimated that around three million women in the United States alone suffer from this condition; however, many are unaware they have it and endure significant pain and other problems due to undiagnosed symptoms.
If you do have this condition, you’ll know it can be uncomfortable and cause distress and embarrassment in many aspects of your life. But don’t worry. Some non-surgical treatments – like pelvic floor physical therapy – can help reduce the symptoms and keep you off the surgeon’s table.
But what causes a bladder to become prolapsed in the first place, and what can you do to help relieve the discomfort without resorting to surgery?
Read on… we’re answering all the questions you’ve been too afraid to ask about prolapsed bladders and pelvic organ prolapses in general.
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What Is A Prolapsed Bladder?
A prolapsed bladder occurs when the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support it weaken, causing it to droop and bulge into the vaginal canal. Women who have given birth, undergone hormonal changes due to menopause or an underlying medical condition, or have a history of chronic constipation or heavy lifting are at a higher risk for developing a prolapsed bladder and other types of pelvic organ prolapse, like a uterine (womb) prolapse or small bowel prolapse.
The symptoms of a prolapsed bladder can include discomfort or pressure in the pelvic area, urinary incontinence, and difficulty emptying your bladder. Although the symptoms of other types of pelvic prolapse do overlap, that’s why it’s so important to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor or pelvic floor physical therapist.
But while the thought of a prolapsed bladder and seeking treatment may seem daunting, treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms, prevent what feels like inevitable surgery, and improve your quality of life.
So, if you suspect you might be suffering from a prolapsed bladder, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider – like a pelvic floor physical therapist – so we can evaluate your symptoms, rule out other conditions, and give you a proper diagnosis. It is essential to recognize the symptoms early and seek treatment to prevent complications such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and chronic difficulties with emptying the bladder fully.
What Causes A Prolapsed Bladder?
A prolapsed bladder, or as we sometimes call it, a “cystocele,” occurs when the bladder drops down towards the vaginal opening. While this common condition affects many women in America and around the world, the causes are unclear. However, some factors can weaken the pelvic muscles and tissues that support the bladder, leading to this condition. These factors include pregnancy, childbirth, aging, obesity, chronic coughing, and heavy lifting. Some studies also suggest that genetics and hormonal changes may play a role in developing a prolapsed bladder.
What Are The Symptoms of A Prolapsed Bladder?
Identifying the symptoms of a prolapsed bladder is critical for proper diagnosis and treatment. The most common sign of a prolapsed bladder is a feeling of pelvic pressure or discomfort, which can worsen when you stand up or during physical activity. Additional symptoms may include:
- Urinary incontinence and “leakage”
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- A visible or palpable bulge in the vaginal area
These symptoms can hugely impact your daily life, making engaging in physical activities or enjoying daily routines, sports, and other hobbies difficult.
N.B., If you have given birth vaginally, are in menopause, or have a family history of prolapse, you’re at a slightly higher risk of developing this condition.
Other more general symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse (not limited to the bladder) include:
- Heaviness in your lower abdomen and genitals
- Pain or discomfort during sex, or complaints from your partner that they feel something “unusual.”
- Feeling like you’re sitting on something or there is something inside your vagina – like a ball
- A dragging or pulling sensation inside the vagina
- Seeing or sensing a lump or “bulge” coming out of the entrance to your vagina
Non-Surgical Treatments for a Prolapsed Bladder
A prolapsed bladder, or cystocele, can be a challenging medical condition. It occurs when the pelvic muscles that support the bladder weaken, causing the bladder to bulge into the vagina. This can lead to discomfort, painful sex, and incontinence. Fortunately, however, there are non-surgical treatments available that can help.
How can physical therapy help with a prolapsed bladder?
Physical therapy, which involves exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, can be very effective. Some women also find that using a vaginal pessary, a device inserted into their vagina to support the bladder, provides relief. A specially trained and experienced pelvic floor physical therapist can help you find and fit the right device for you. The important thing to remember is, “Don’t suffer in silence .”We can help.
As with other pelvic organ prolapse conditions, physical therapy can be an extremely successful treatment if you’re dealing with a prolapsed bladder. This type of treatment has many benefits for managing a prolapsed bladder.
But here is a quick summary…
Physical therapy for a prolapsed bladder is an effective and non-invasive treatment involving specialized exercises that correctly work the pelvic floor muscles. The benefits include improving overall bladder control, stronger pelvic muscles, reduced symptoms and the associated fear and anxiety, and enhanced quality of life. Unlike surgical or pharmacologic options, pelvic floor physical therapy offers a long-lasting solution to manage the discomfort and avoid further complications and surgery. We can help restore your confidence and make you feel comfortable again in all aspects of your life.
But what else can you do?
How To Strengthen The Muscles Around Your Bladder
While physical therapy is one way to address the issue, it’s also important to understand how to properly strengthen and maintain your pelvic floor muscles’ health.
The pelvic floor muscles can weaken as we age, leading to bladder and bowel problems. But there’s good news: strengthening these muscles with targeted exercises can help reverse the effects of age and childbirth. And the best part? You can do most of these exercises anywhere, without any special equipment. From Kegels to squats, there are a variety of exercises to choose from that will target your pelvic floor muscles and help you feel stronger and more confident.
Maintaining a healthy bladder is a crucial aspect of overall wellness, and one of the best ways to do so is through “pelvic floor exercises .”Pelvic floor exercises are essential to strengthening muscles around your bladder and helping with bladder control.
We can teach you these exercises during pelvic floor physical therapy sessions. But for best results, you should also perform them at home as regularly as possible.
These exercises target the muscles in and around the pelvic region, which includes the bladder. You can reduce your risk of bladder leaks and other related issues by strengthening these muscles. Doing these exercises regularly under a pelvic floor physical therapist’s guidance can also help prevent prolapsed bladder surgery.
Pelvic floor exercises can be especially helpful if you have recently given birth or are experiencing menopause, as these life stages can weaken the pelvic muscles. But even if you haven’t had children or entered menopause, you can benefit from these exercises, as they’re a preventative measure for all kinds of bladder issues and other forms of pelvic organ prolapse. So, learning how to do pelvic floor exercises properly and incorporating them into your routine is an intelligent investment in your health.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Help with a Prolapsed Bladder
In addition to pelvic floor P.T. and pelvic floor exercises, you could consider making some diet and lifestyle changes to help alleviate symptoms.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, whatever that looks like for you, is important because excess lbs can put added pressure on pelvic muscles.
- Staying hydrated and eating a fiber-rich, plant-rich diet can help prevent chronic constipation, which can contribute to and worsen symptoms. Staying hydrated is crucial to keeping your bladder healthy and functioning correctly. Drinking water helps to flush out toxins and bacteria that could cause issues later.
- Avoiding heavy lifting and high-impact exercises can also help prevent further damage to your pelvic floor.
- Practicing good bathroom habits, such as urinating regularly and not holding urine for long periods, can help prevent urinary tract infections.
By making these minor adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can take charge of your prolapsed bladder symptoms, potentially prevent surgical intervention, and improve your quality of life. Even though there is no quick fix for restoring the normal shape of the bladder wall or treating weakened pelvic muscles due to age, armed with knowledge – and the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist, you can start taking steps towards better managing this condition.