Help! Does my leaky bladder mean its fallen?

A common misconception that we hear at the Center for Urogynecology is "I have a leaky bladder so it must have dropped!"

A leaky bladder and a fallen bladder are not necessarily one and the same.  Very often, women will develop urinary incontinence either after the birth of their children or as they age.  They see their primary physician or gynecologist only to have their fears confirmed that their bladder has dropped and surgery is the only solution.

What people (and many physicians!) don't realize is that 97% of women who have given birth will have an alteration of their vaginal anatomy. The front wall of the vagina (commonly referred to as a cystocele or falling bladder) will sit lower than it did prior to childbirth.  It is completely normal after childbirth to have some relaxation of the vaginal walls.  In the vast majority of women, the change is not noticeable and does not require repair.  In some cases, this relaxation can contribute to urinary incontinence specifically the kind that happens with coughing and sneezing.  This type of incontinence, called stress incontinence, can be treated with surgery but non surgical options are also available.

Older women tend to develop urge urinary incontinence.  This type of bladder leakage occurs with a strong, compelling need to void that is urgent and often causes leakage.  Also known as overactive bladder, this type of incontinence is not due to a falling bladder.  There is no corrective vaginal or bladder surgery for this problem as it is caused by nerve dysfunction.  In some cases, women may experience improvement in their overactive bladder when they have prolapse repair but it not known who will benefit and it should never be promised as a solution to overactive bladder incontinence.  There are many treatment options available for urge incontinence or overactive bladder including medicine, physical therapy and procedures.  

Come visit with us to learn more about your leaky bladder!

Author
Fareesa Khan Dr. Khan is the physician owner of Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery.

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