If one of your pelvic organs has slipped through your vaginal opening, you have a pelvic organ prolapse. While the uterus, vagina, rectum, and small bowel can prolapse, one of the most common organs to slip out of the pelvic cavity is the bladder. When the bladder drops or bulges into the vaginal canal, it is called a cystocele, which can lead to painful urination, a sense of fullness or heaviness in the pelvic region, and frequent urinary tract infections. Here are three things that can cause a bladder prolapse:
Childbirth can lead to a bladder prolapse if you had a vaginal delivery. Women who have delivered their babies via a cesarean birth, or C-section, are much less likely to develop a pelvic organ prolapse. If you experience symptoms of a "dropped bladder," talk to your doctor about Kegel exercises that can help strengthen the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles to help prevent further prolapse.
Avoiding heavy lifting and straining will also help discourage the further prolapse of your bladder, as will using a vaginal pessary, which is a small device that is placed inside the vaginal canal. The pessary provides support to the vaginal walls to hold your bladder in place.
Losing weight often helps relieve the symptoms of a bladder prolapse. Being overweight places pressure on the pelvic organs which can cause your bladder to drop. Weight loss will help relieve the pressure and possibly prevent further prolapse. If you are unable to lose weight on your own, talk to your health care provider about starting a diet and exercise program.
Do not begin a new weight loss regimen without first discussing it with your physician. While losing excess weight will help manage your prolapse, you'll need to make sure that you're healthy and strong enough to embark on a new fitness program.
Many women experience bladder prolapses during their menopausal years, when estrogen levels decline. Estrogen helps support the muscles that support the pelvic organs, and when levels of this hormone decline, muscles may weaken and pelvic muscles can slip out of place.
Estrogen replacement therapy can help slow the progression of your prolapsed bladder and may even improve symptoms of urinary frequency, heaviness in the pelvic area, and urinary incontinence. While estrogen may improve your symptoms, it is not recommended for everyone. Women who have histories of gynecological cancers should not use estrogen therapy because these types of malignancies are often fueled by estrogen.
If you have a pelvic organ prolapse and have not experienced relief through conservative treatment methods, talk to your doctor about surgical intervention. Pelvic reconstruction surgery will correct your prolapse so that you can enjoy permanent symptom relief.