Pelvic Floor Dysfunction..You don't have to live with it
I've been doing a lot of reflecting on my health journey the past several years. I have a long way to go to heal my gut and health, but looking back on all I've overcome helps me keep moving forward. I'm happy to say after months and months of pelvic pain and bladder prolapse, I can actually get back to lifting weights (one of my favorite exercises that makes me feel empowered and strong).
Since the birth of my son in 2015, I've struggled with pelvic floor dysfunction. Although at the time I didn't know what it was that was causing my pain. I remember telling my doctor my symptoms- pelvic pain, peeing when I tried to exercise or sometimes just lift my baby or walk, and a lot of pelvic pressure and bloating. My doctor just kept saying "sorry that's what happens after babies. It will always be that way from now on." I was so happy to have survived infertility that I just accepted this ridiculous answer and went on living with symptoms. It wasn't until after the birth of my daughter in 2016 that my symptoms got really bad. (I believe my pelvic floor symptoms worsened from back to back pregnancies plus all the scar tissue from my previous abdominal fertility surgeries that was pulling my bladder down.)
At 6 months postpartum after my daughter, I had a rough UTI and my bladder hasn't been the same since. Some days the pain was so intense I couldn't walk. I didn't leave the house for two months except to take my son to school. I would be curled up in the fetal position trying to parent three kids while silently crying and counting the hours until my husband came home from work. The best way to describe the pain is it felt like I was in the late third trimester of pregnancy and had a lot of pressure in my pelvis like I was about to push a baby out. Yeah, It's not pleasant..especially before I knew what was causing the pain.
The pain was unreal. Some days I used the exact same guided imagery that I used to get me through natural childbirth with my daughter. Finally three doctors later, I received an interstitial cystitis and pelvic floor dysfunction diagnosis. One doctor prescribed two pharmaceuticals that would "take all the pain away." It of course sounded tempting but I knew I had to heal not cover up the pain. When I asked if the medicines were safe to take while nursing just out of curiosity, the doctor said "Ignorance is bliss. Don't research it." This comment right here is why I have lost a lot of faith in our medical system. It's why I LOVE Functional Medicine because it addresses the root cause of the issue, instead of offering a band aid for the problem (often with a host of side effects.)
I started seeing a very holistic minded PT who has helped me come so far. If it weren't for her, I'd still be wearing pads and having trouble walking some days. I saw my PT once a week for several months. The first few treatments were pretty painful, and I'd still prolapse if I lifted my toddler or tried to walk too far for a while. I missed my grandparent's 70th wedding anniversary party because I happened to prolapse that day and couldn't walk. I stayed home crying while thinking of all the things I was missing out on. Some days I wondered if I'd ever get better. But slowly, I DID get better. I started being able to walk without prolapsing. Then I could lift my toddler without prolapsing. Then I was able to stop wearing pads due to leaking (happens when your pelvic floor muscles spasm).
If you struggle from any of these symptoms, it's not normal and not something just to expect after having babies.. you don't have to live with these symptoms and there is hope.
Although I usually associate these symptoms of bladder prolapse and peeing your pants with older women, it affects women of all ages. I'm not embarrassed sharing my story. My body has gone through a lot in the past several years- infertility, 4 abdominal surgeries, a miscarriage, and growing and birthing two babies back to back from PCOS ovaries and a completely blocked tube. I'm proud of my body and will fight for it.
I strongly recommend finding a pelvic PT that can help you if you have any of these symptoms or pain. I'm not sure where I'd be today if I have listened to that doctor and taken the medication for IC pain..probably still on the floor in the fetal position. (I also later learned from my PT that the meds he prescribed would have weakened and worsened my pelvic floor). Through PT, breathing exercises, epsom salt baths, anti-inflammatory diet and abdominal castor oil packs I have found a great deal of relief and healing. I'm still working on stress management as stress can cause flare ups (I still have IC pain but it's getting better, I no longer have pelvic pain/prolapse, and I feel like I have less scar tissue now) Please reach out to me if you are going through this and have questions!! You can and will get better with the right help!
I'm not a doctor, so always talk to your health care provider before starting any treatment or supplements. I highly suggest finding a Functional Dr!