Commonly associated with menopause, a prolapsed bladder can impact approximately 40% of women over the age of 50. With pregnancy and childbirth also being a significant risk factor, the importance of pelvic floor exercises has never been more important!
What is Bladder Prolapse?
A prolapsed bladder, also known as cystoceles, refers to the bladder pressing on the front wall of the vagina as a result of weakening pelvic floor muscles.
The medical profession categorises bladder prolapse into different grades depending on the severity; mild, moderate, severe and complete, where the latter can result in a portion or the entire bladder protruding from the body via the vaginal opening requiring surgery.
What Causes Bladder Prolapse?
There are many risk factors that contribute to the onset of bladder prolapse in addition to age, menopause and a family history of prolapse. They include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Pelvic surgery, including a hysterectomy
- Repetitive heavy lifting including children and weights
- Being overweight
- Regular straining on the toilet when making a bowel movement
- Exercises where there is excessive downward pressure placed on the pelvic floor
When the muscles of the vaginal wall are weakened the bladder can prolapse. Without the necessary support, the bladder will start to bulge and places pressure on the vagina. It is important to note that postmenopausal women are prone to bladder prolapse as a result of the lower levels of oestrogen, and the vaginal walls naturally become less elastic and thinner.
What Are The Symptoms?
Depending on the grade of bladder prolapse you have been diagnosed with and the potential for you to present with another type of prolapse, the symptoms can vary.
Typically a common symptom is a bulge coming down the vagina and may be accompanied with incontinence. This can be an embarrassing side effect where a cough, sneeze or simply laughing walking or running can result in you leaking urine and urgently needing to empty your bladder.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs),
- The inability to empty your bladder effectively,
- Experiencing pain or straining whilst emptying your bladder, and
- Heaviness or pressure in the vaginal area are common.
The bulge or swelling felt at the opening of the vagina, in the more severe or complete grades, can also result in discomfort during intercourse.
Effective Treatments Available
The good news is that you can do many things to prevent or manage bladder prolapse yourself and treatments are available depending on how severe it is. In all cases however regular pelvic floor exercises are always recommended and prove to be highly beneficial.
With a mild grade prolapse, symptoms often are nonexistent so recommended changes to lifestyle are discussed to assist the condition from becoming worse. These can vary from weight loss to management of constipation to avoid unnecessary straining when on the toilet.
In addition to changes to your lifestyle, you may be referred to a physiotherapist to acquire techniques to further strengthen your pelvic floor. There are some instances where a pessary may be necessary to provide bladder support. Working to delay the need for invasive surgery, this is a common option. In the more severe cases, surgery may be required.
The key is to act promptly and organise a private consultation with one of our female gynaecologists here at Northside Gynaecology, if you are concerned about or currently experiencing any symptoms commonly associated with bladder prolapse. An accurate diagnosis is simply a phone call away where the most appropriate treatments will be discussed.