Anna's Story: Overcoming Prolapse
Series: Real Women, True Stories
My husband and I were just a few years from retirement and really looking forward to that time together. That’s when it all began. I had noticed some vaginal pressure and, concerned, I sought consultation with my primary care physician who discovered my bladder had “dropped.” He said it was the bladder pressing against the wall of my vagina and I could try Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the vaginal walls and pelvic organs. I had done Kegels when I was younger, so I gave it a try again and kept up with it regularly until I noticed some relief.
But right after we retired, my husband got sick and I took on the job of caring for him as he recovered. Just before he got back on his feet again, I was helping him out of the bathtub when the pressure in my vagina returned – this time, it was really uncomfortable. When we had intercourse, it felt like there was something in the way. I knew something was wrong and went to my gynecologist who diagnosed me with a cystocele: my bladder had lost the support it needed and was bulging down into my vagina.
Now sixty-six and just embarking on, what was supposed to be, an exciting and much-deserved retirement, I was feeling anxious and disappointed. We had planned to travel and play golf – things we loved to do together – but with the prolapse, I just didn’t feel that same sense of adventure or interest in activity that I had before.
The road to recovery
Once I knew what the problem was, I followed up with a specialist and made an appointment to see a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor medicine and reconstructive surgery (Female Urology or Urogynecology). He gave me a couple of options to consider in dealing with the bladder prolapse: wear a pessary to support the bladder from within the vagina, or undergo surgery to re-support the bladder. The pessary seemed to work pretty well for me, but I had to take it out for intercourse, and frankly, I didn’t want the bother. While I considered surgery, my doctor suggested that I try pelvic floor physical therapy. To my surprise, it was more than just Kegels. I went along with it and wished I had known about it sooner to work more proactively toward pelvic floor health.
In the end, I opted for the surgery. I wanted to resolve the problem once and for all and move on with my life as soon as possible. During the procedure, my doctor attached the bladder and vagina to the ligaments in my pelvis and added a mesh sling under my urethra for additional support. I was in and out of the hospital in less than 24 hours and recovery was quick so I could start to truly enjoy my retirement.
The way had been cleared for my husband and me to resume our golf and traveling. I’m was so relieved!