What is a bladder prolapse?
A bladder prolapse generally occurs when the tissue and muscle network that holds this and other pelvic organs in place (the pelvic floor muscles) become stretched or weak, resulting in the bladder descending or bulging down into the vagina. This is ‘bladder prolapse’ is referred to medically as a ‘cystocele’.
In particularly severe instances, a bladder prolapse will appear at the vaginal opening, and can even protrude through the vaginal opening. It can be very uncomfortable and frightening to see an internal organ protruding out of the body, but it can be treated.
Image credit: http://www.bladder.com.au/clinical-examination.html
Symptoms of bladder prolapse
A bulging feeling in the vagina is a common symptom of severe cases of bladder prolapse. Other symptoms include:
- Discomfort or pain in the pelvis
- A feeling of heaviness around your lower tummy and vagina
- Urinary Incontinence, either Stress or Urge Incontinence
- Not being able to fully empty the bladder when urinating
- Painful intercourse
Mild instances of bladder prolapse may not have any symptoms at all. If you’re experiencing the above symptoms and suspect you may have a prolapsed bladder, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible to prevent these symptoms from worsening.
What causes bladder prolapse?
The pelvic floor and other tissue that supports the bladder can become stretched and weakened as a result of stress on the body, such as pregnancy and childbirth. Deliveries that include forceps or episiotomy may increase the risk of bladder prolapse due to the associated bodily trauma.
Bladder prolapse can also be triggered during the Menopause, when oestrogen levels that help keep the pelvic floor and supporting tissues strong drop, resulting in these muscles losing their tone and strength, and ability to adequately support the pelvic organs.
Severe exertion and strain can also result in bladder prolapse such as heavy lifting, coughing attacks, and straining when using loo as this can also cause pelvic floor damage.
How to treat bladder prolapse
There are a few common treatment options for bladder prolapse, and the best treatment route will depend on the severity of the condition.
- Pelvic floor exercises: pelvic floor muscle strengthening
- Vaginal pessary: a device inserted into the vaginal to help keep the bladder in place. Requires frequent removal and cleaning to prevent infections
- Pelvic floor physiotherapy: pelvic floor exercises performed with the help of a Physiotherapist
- Oestrogen replacement therapy: won’t be suitable for everyone (there are risk factors), but generally this treatment option helps to restore the levels of oestrogen that have dropped due to Menopause, which can reverse prolapse symptoms in mild cases
- Surgery: secures the bladder in place via a surgery performed through the vagina.
How do pelvic floor exercises help with bladder prolapse?
Pelvic floor exercises are considered the most conservative treatment for bladder prolapse, but how can they help?
Pelvic floor exercises, like any kind of exercise, strengthens the muscles for improved strength and control. A strong pelvic floor provides better support for your pelvic organs, prevents prolapse from worsening and relieves symptoms associated with uterine prolapse1.
But pelvic floor exercises are tricky to do correctly, especially when these muscles are so weak they result in a prolapse.
INNOVO offers a compelling alternative.
Easy to use and comfortable to wear, INNOVO helps you safely and effortlessly strengthen and re-educate the entire network of pelvic floor muscles through gentle muscle stimulation. INNOVO is a truly non-invasive pelvic floor exerciser used in the comfort and privacy of home.
INNOVO is clinically proven to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence. Consult your GP to find out whether INNOVO might be able to help you with pelvic floor strengthening for bladder prolapse.