Prolapse Changed My Life – HealthyWomen

as told to Jacqueline Froeber

June is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Awareness Month

Sitting in a waiting room with mostly 80-year-old men, I wondered how I got here.

He was 50 years old. Asset. In good health. But apparently my bladder thought he was twice his age. The urge to urinate was taking over my life. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I had to urinate at least once an hour, more than 30 times a day on a good day. And the more I thought about it, the worse it got.

My full and happy life was already changing when this bladder bully showed up in early 2023. In the last few years, my family and I moved to a new neighborhood, my daughter moved away for college, and my teenage son moved away. was preparing to leave. also. I began to feel insecure and unsure of my next purpose in life. My inner critic was always firing major bullets in my direction, telling me I wasn’t good enough. What was going to happen when my work as a hands-on mother was reduced? I was afraid to find out.

The ongoing conflict within my brain was causing a lot of overall tension in my mind and body. Even if I could relax enough to sleep, I would still have to get up during the night to urinate. I was desperately trying to hold everything together, but the pressure in my pelvis was pushing me to the breaking point.

I was frank about this with the urologist during that office visit. “This is unbearable,” I said. He was the last healthcare provider to listen to my symptoms. Six weeks earlier I was treated for a UTI, but three rounds of antibiotics didn’t really help. Now the pressure was so intense that it felt like a rock resting on my pelvis. He would roll to the side when he went to the bathroom, but always came back a few minutes later.

The urologist diagnosed me with overactive bladder. But that didn’t fit me. Why did he appear so suddenly? I didn’t have any answers except that I was menopausal and these things happen with age.

My doubts persisted. I told my friend that I felt like the doctor wasn’t listening to me and suggested that she go to a urogynecologist who specializes in bladder problems. When I called the office, the receptionist told me they only saw patients with severe pelvic floor problems or prolapse. I asked him to repeat the word. I had never heard of prolapse before; Maybe this was what was happening to me? I went directly to the Internet. I learned that pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is when the pelvic organs can droop and protrude into the vagina. Of course, I was scared to think about this, but overall I was disappointed. I had some symptoms of POP, such as a feeling of fullness in my lower stomach, but it didn’t seem like this was what was happening to me.

The next night I was in the bathroom, as always, when I felt a strange sensation, like a tampon was coming out. It didn’t hurt, but something wasn’t right. I screamed downstairs calling for my husband. “My insides are falling out!” I felt like a lump in my vagina. Wait, where have I heard that before? I suddenly realized that I was experiencing a prolapse. From the research I had done the day before I knew that I was not dying and that I did not need to go to the emergency room. (But you could call that urogynecologist now.)

And something miraculous happened. For the first time in weeks, the pelvic pressure disappeared. Fagot. He was cautiously excited; He would surely come back any time. But hours passed and there was no pressure. He was beyond elated. I’m sure this isn’t the response most women have when they experience a prolapse, but I felt free for the first time in a long time.

My pressure-free euphoria went down a few notches after I went to see the urogynecologist. He said the only solution was surgery, with the possibility that frequent urination would return and the prolapse could occur again.

I wanted to avoid pressure and constant urination at all costs. I asked her about seeing a pelvic physical therapist, which I had read about online. She said the same thing all my other healthcare providers would say: You can try pelvic floor therapy, but we’ll be here when it doesn’t help.

Fortunately, I didn’t let them discourage me. Years before she had rehabilitated major back, neck and shoulder problems with movement therapy, so she knew the power of the body to heal and regenerate. What did she have to lose?

I had to wait over a month to get an appointment, so I binge-watched pelvic floor exercises and prolapse tutorials. I learned that prolapse can be caused by a hypertonic pelvic floor, which means it is in a constant state of contraction and prevents the muscles from relaxing. Then I learned that one of the symptoms of hypertonic pelvic floor is frequent urination. I realized that this was probably the reason for my prolapse. My muscles had been so tight for weeks that they just gave way. Like a pressure cooker exploding.

With the help of my pelvic physical therapist and many online resources, I slowly educated myself on how to rewire my body and nervous system to relax my pelvic floor. I learned to breathe fully and worked to soften and relax my entire body, letting it melt into the floor. Then I got my strength back and learned to really listen to my body.

But the body work only helped me to a point. My mind was the real driver of my symptoms, so I had to work on calming my inner critic. I learned to shed layers of protection and shame and allow myself to gain strength from within. I learned to regulate my nervous system so that I felt safe. I started believing in myself and trusting my body, soul and mind.

It turns out that stress can have a negative impact on the pelvic floor and urinary frequency, although none of my healthcare providers made that connection. No one asked me how I was sleeping or if I was dealing with any changes in my life. They looked at my history, saw my age, and ruled me out. Yes, two vaginal births and menopause probably contributed to my prolapse, but it was much more than that.

I’m not sure what my next stage of life will look like, but I approach it with curiosity and confidence rather than fear. I now know that my pelvic floor is where I store my stress, my frustration, and my deepest feelings. I do my best every day to honor my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I have not had any symptoms of prolapse in several months and have returned to doing my usual activities. Urinary frequency is still a problem when I’m stressed and tense, but I’m okay with that. It’s my barometer telling me to relax, breathe deeply, and remind myself, “You’re okay, Lisa.”

*Last name withheld for privacy reasons.

Do you have any real women, real stories of your own that you want to share? let us know.

Our Real Women, Real Stories are authentic experiences of real-life women. The views, opinions and experiences shared in these stories are not endorsed by HealthyWomen and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HealthyWomen.

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