“I laughed so hard, I peed.”
It’s a comical postpartum predicament in a romantic comedy, but bladder leaks are less funny when it’s real life. If you find yourself still running to the bathroom after your baby is born, you could actually be dealing with fallen bladder.
And it’s not just childbirth that can leave you reaching for pantiliners or running to the restroom. Menopause, aging and even heavy lifting can lead to bladder prolapse. In fact, half of all women show signs of fallen bladder, typically leaking urine, by the time they’re 80 years old.
While it might feel awkward to talk about, know that you’re not alone and there are treatment options. However, the signs of fallen bladder aren’t something many gynecologists can spot during routine visits, so it’s important to trust your gut, do your research and talk with your doctor.
What is bladder prolapse?
Fallen bladder, also known as prolapsed bladder, occurs when the front wall of the vagina that supports the bladder is weakened to the point where the bladder descends into the vagina.
If you struggle with bladder control and leaks when you laugh, sneeze, run or just move in a way that puts pressure on your bladder, a bladder prolapse is a likely culprit.
Bladder prolapse and pregnancy are commonly connected because childbirth puts immense stress on the vaginal wall and surrounding muscles. It’s also common as women age and go through menopause. In fact, approximately 11% of women require corrective surgery for fallen bladder at some point in their life.
Fallen Bladder Symptoms and Diagnosis
The first thing women often notice with fallen bladder is a heaviness in the vagina, along with the presence of tissue around the vaginal wall that wasn’t there before. This heavy feeling in your vagina can feel uncomfortable or even painful.
Other symptoms of fallen bladder can include:
- Tender tissue that may bleed from the vagina
- Difficulty with bladder control
- Leaking urine from sneezing, laughing, coughing or other activities
- Bladder infections
- Painful intercourse
- Back pain
Fallen bladder is diagnosed through medical testing, including a physical exam of your vagina. You’ll need to tell your healthcare provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing and provide a detailed medical history. Then, they can determine a potential cause and advise you on a course of corrective treatment.
Fallen Bladder Levels
Fallen bladder is categorized in four levels. No matter the severity, there are treatment options for all levels of fallen bladder.
- Grade 1: The bladder droops slightly into the vagina.
- Grade 2: The bladder droops to the point of reaching the vaginal opening.
- Grade 3: The bladder protrudes through the vaginal opening.
- Grade 4: The entire bladder is outside of the vaginal opening. The most severe, this is often associated with other forms of pelvic prolapse.
Fallen Bladder Treatments
If you’re diagnosed with fallen bladder, there is help for your pelvic floor. Just remember to take care in correcting a prolapse as soon as possible.
If left untreated, fallen bladder can lead to other health issues. That’s because prolapsed organs cannot heal and, if not corrected swiftly, they often worsen.
Fortunately, there are several non-surgical and surgical treatments that can correct a bladder prolapse. Depending on the severity and a woman’s unique lifestyle, some bladder prolapses can be treated with pelvic floor exercises or avoiding heavy lifting and straining.
A common surgical treatment performed at the Kaldas Center for fallen bladder is a non-mesh repair called a burch. While mesh repairs are still used, many women are unaware of this non-mesh alternative.
For bladder prolapse and pregnancy particularly, there are proactive measures you can take to strengthen muscles and keep leaks at bay.
Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Before and After Childbirth
Do you know the feeling of trying to walk when your leg has fallen asleep? Childbirth can make a woman’s pelvic floor just as weak, leading to fallen bladder. Pregnancy hormones often soften supporting vaginal muscles and, after delivery, these muscles don’t automatically rebuild.
If you’re expecting a baby, your pelvic floor should be just as top of mind as preparing the nursery. Be proactive about strengthening those muscles leading up to childbirth and after delivery to help prevent fallen bladder and health issues for years to come.
A woman should also work on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles after each childbirth. Start with Kegel exercises, which involves tightening the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine, holding for 10 seconds, then releasing and repeating. These exercises build strength in the openings of a woman’s urethra, vagina and rectum.
Without performing pelvic floor exercises, fallen bladder can lead to incontinence and other long-lasting issues in the future.
You don’t have to live with fallen bladder.
Correcting a bladder prolapse can be life-changing. Worry less about the bathroom and having a backup plan and more about enjoying life.
Addressing Fallen Bladder
If a light went on after recognizing the familiar symptoms of fallen bladder, it is time to make an appointment with the doctors at the Kaldas Center. We work with you to address fallen bladder and get you back to normal life.
Call us at (920) 886-2299 or visit KaldasCenter.com to learn how to take control of your pelvic floor health.