Have you just been diagnosed with a cystocele? Do you think you may have one or are you looking for ways to heal one?
This post may help you. I have recently been successful if making a full recovery from this horrid experience myself and wanted to share how I did this.
It’s something that woman usually don’t talk outside the doctor’s office about and I wanted to change that!
Having a baby is a traumatic experience and there is not enough discussion about the post-partum affects to the human body.
As a young, healthy and active first-time mum I did NOT expect this to be part of my experience. I am sure that there are many mamas in similar situations. If I can help just one new mum heal their body, I will have spent my time wisely.
At 6 weeks post-partum I thought I had the all clear to start exercising again. I felt like my old self. I was 10kgs lighter than my 41-week self and I had eased into this motherhood thing with grace.
I was watching the calendar and that 6-week mark coming closer to when I would be able to hit the gym again.
Going to the gym has been my meditation for about 3 years when I first started cardio classes, which developed into me getting a personal trainer and eventually to me now able to train solo (or with my sis).
I was looking forward to the time away from Jax. An hour 2 times a week where I got to be Veronika and not a dishwashing milk machine. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new role as mama but I knew for me to keep excelling in that role I needed to get back into doing something for me.
Then my world all but came crashing down.
After our usual walk one day I came home and went to the toilet. I felt something ‘down-there’ and had no idea what it could be.
The nurses and doctors in the hospital never explained to look out for the sensation I was experiencing and it was all too strange.
I decided to bite the bullet, grabbed a hand mirror and had a peek. After a 3.8kg baby and second degree tears I was expecting a massacre but what I saw was something very unexpected.
Off to the doctor to get checked out, confirming my fears, I had a cystocele.
What Is A Cystocele?
A cystocele is when the muscles on the wall of the vagina weaken and as a result collapse into the vagina.
How Does A Cystocele Happen?
Obviously, for me it was birthing a decent sized baby. The mere situation of holding a baby in your uterus pushes all your organs out of their usual positions. Then add the act of pushing said baby out of your hoo-ha and well, there are bound to be ramifications!
A cystocele is usually caused by the weakening of the wall of the vagina resulting in it not being able to hold the bladder organ in place and therefore it can be pushed in towards the vagina. The bulge or protrusion is actually the wall of the vagina coming outside the body.
Diagnosing A Cystocele
If you think you may have this disorder it is really important that you see your doctor straight away to get diagnosed. There are 3 degrees of a cystocele, ranging in severity:
- The first is the bulge remains inside the vagina and can only be seen when you physically push down your muscles (like doing a Kegel).
- The second is when the bulge is visible when you are relaxed and lying down.
- Third degree is when the bulge is visible outside the opening to the vagina when you are standing and relaxed, this usually requires urgent corrective surgery.
My doctor told me that I was somewhere between the first and second stages. Great.
Treatment Options For A Cystocele
After consultation with my doctor and a quick scour of the internet I implemented the following 3 things withi 24 hours of my discovery.
In 5 weeks I was able to notice a difference to my body and another 5 weeks after that the thought of a cystocele was a distant memory.
What are Kegels?
Kegel exercise is when you exercise your pelvic floor. The way you do this is imagine you are going to the toilet and then you stop mid-flow. This is the muscle you need to work and the action is called a Kegel.
Note that you should only perform the above to discover your pelvic floor and you should not regularly stop your urine flow as this can cause other issues.
The best way to perform Kegels
- Lie flat on your back with your knees up.
- Perform 5 Kegels holding for 2 seconds and resting for 2 seconds
- Then lift your bottom off the ground in a glute-bridge position and perform another set.
- Do these 5 times.
- Work your way up from 2 seconds to 10 seconds over several weeks.
- Work in pulses into the regime too
You can never do too much pelvic floor exercises.
They are great to add to a pregnancy workout plan or even day-to-day at your desk/doing the dishes/waiting for the bus.
They will help you to avoid such things as a cystocele and incontinence in your later years.
For me they were a huge part of how I healed my body after childbirth.
I had made a plan of doing Kegels every time Jax had tummy time on the floor and every time I was breastfeeding. This equated to 15-20 times a day!
Of course, I didn’t heal just by doing Kegels. I implemented several changes to assist my body tighten up. Here’s how I did it
2. Compression leggings
I purchased a pair of 2XU Post Natal Active Tights and wore them all day every day for several weeks. they are amazing quality; they breath and they do not feel too tight.
The theory behind these is to apply even pressure over your abdomen to help your uterus shrink back and compress, tightening your core and as a result, your pelvic floor.
I cannot recommend these enough in my cystocele journey. They were hands down the best investment I made, having bought them for other reasons while I was still pregnant (plans to get my pre-baby body back – duh).
I worked out that as I was wearing them 6 days a week (7th in the wash and taking a break), for 10 weeks equated to 60 wears which for the price (and the fact that I am still wearing them at least 2-3 times a wee at the gym) means they are actually not bad value at all.
That LINK again for you!
It is recommended that you only wear compression garments from 6 weeks post-partum once you have been approved to do so by your doctor. This is for women who have experienced a complication free vaginal birth.
If your situation is different (i.e. C-section etc.) please talk to your doctor about the use of such item.
3. Reduce Movement and Rest
This was a hard one for me. Sitting down and watching Netflix in the middle of warm Melbourne Autumn was difficult for me. I wanted to be walking in the fresh air. Sitting outside in our tiny backyard was a recipe for disaster as I couldn’t help myself to start pulling out weeds or rearranging the garden shed.
Still it was for the greater good. The prospect of potentially needing surgery if I didn’t get myself sorted was enough to make me sit still.
I made sure to keep stretching and of course doing my Kegels but I tried not to stay up-right for too long.
I would find that if I was on my feet for more than 30 minutes the feeling would come back and it would prompt me to sit back down and rest.
I was lucky that I did not have to go down this path.
Surgery would entail the wall of the vagina being sewn in place to keep the bladder from pushing it out of the way. There is a high risk for repeat surgery needed and the likelihood of future incontinence is high as well.
After about 5 weeks I stopped and realized that it had been several days since I had felt the sensation between my legs. I had slowly gotten more active, starting to go for short walks again.
The evening reminder of the disorder had disappeared and it was clear that I had managed to heal myself!
Preventing A Cystocele
Just like Kegels can heal a cystocle, they can help prevent them as well. I do believe that having included Kegel exercise in all my pregnancy workouts contributed to my experience not being as severe as it may have been without them.
I also had a fairly quick (12hr) labour, with no drugs and only 26 minutes of pushing (all in all a pretty good result). Again, I have to thank my PT for making me include Kegel exercise in my regime.
Another thing I have been told moving forward is something I am really guilty for and that is holding my urine. I can go up to 4hrs holding my pee in before I really have to go.
This weakens the pelvic floor and can make you more susceptible to incontinence and future cystoceles. I know personally, I need to break this bad habit or I will be prone to having this happen with every concurrent pregnancy. And if it happens again it may even be on a more severe level. No thanks.
These tips may seem simple or even obvious but the truth is that it does take time to heal your body. Don’t get upset of you don’t see results straight away.
Remember that it took 9 months for your body to grow a baby and that tiny thing may have caused a world of havoc on his way out. It is going to take time to heal and repair, but with consistency you will get there!
It can be a very embarrassing thing to talk about as a woman and especially as a young, healthy and active woman. The idea of incontinence and leakage and the feeling of weakness in such a private area is soul-crushing.
Especially after having such a complication free pregnancy and birth. I can see why nurses and doctors are constantly handing you pamphlets about post-natal depression!
I hope that talking about these issues and raising awareness about how common and normal they are will help women to band together and help each other to heal and deal. And that other mamas can learn from my experience.
Did you get diagnosed with a cystocele? How severe was it? Did you manage to heal or did you end up down the surgery road? Let’s chat.