Her first vaginal birth went swimmingly.
She’d only laboured for about two hours, pushed for 10 minutes or so, and her baby seemed to bounce out ready to face the world.
Her second vaginal delivery was entirely different.
She laboured for nearly a day and pushed for what seemed an eternity. At the point of sheer exhaustion, her baby was finally born. But there was another surprise with this birth. Another package.
It was in the shape of a ball, and it too was coming out of her vagina. It was a bladder prolapse or what is called a cystocele. She never knew this could happen.
After two weeks, she went to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist who confirmed a “serious prolapse” and gave her some exercises and breathing to do.
After six months of what seemed like pointless breathing and squeezing of her pelvic floor and a drain on her bank account, she was about to give up.
She met another pelvic floor physiotherapist at a mom’s group who suggested she come and see me discuss other treatment options like a pessary. A pessary is a small medical-grade silicone device inserted into the vagina to support the fallen organ or prolapse.
It’s important to treat prolapse as quickly as possible because prolapses my impact sexual function and also lead to urinary retention. Indeed, this was the case for this woman. Sex was painful, and she felt like she had to go to the bathroom several times in order to empty it.
When I examined this woman, I did the POP-Q a grading system for prolapse. This woman had a Grade III prolapse on a scale of 0-4 and is considered significant. It was never going to be treated by pelvic floor muscle exercises and breathing techniques. A pessary would reduce her prolapse immediately and provide instant relief.
So, I fitted my patient with a #5 ring pessary with support. She found the pessary comfortable, and it supported her prolapse nicely. She said she had the best void she’d had in months and really felt like she was finally emptying her bladder again.
I taught her how to remove, clean, and reinsert her pessary. She was delighted to learn that she could resume sexual activity with her husband with the pessary in!
She missed the intimacy. She was also excited about running again.
My patient said this pessary was a “port in a storm” and a “Godsend.”
She had suffered for months, and within five minutes, her prolapse was reduced, the pain is gone, and her hope restored.
She asked me to share her story because she believed that prolapse is something women are not educated about.
She felt she would have been better prepared to deal with a prolapse psychologically had she had some understanding.
Maureen McGrath RN NCA is a Sexual Health Educator and founder at GetCleopatra.com. She hosts the Sunday Night Health Show, a National Radio program on Corus Radio that airs live on Sunday Nights 8-10 pm PST. https://globalnews.ca/bc/program/sunday-night-health-show