I lost more than 6 stones - then my bladder prolapsed

I lost more than 6 stones – then my bladder prolapsed

I am a 54 year old female and weigh 145 lbs.

I have lost 95 pounds in the past 18 months through diet and exercise which has brought me down over 17 stone. I am very proud of myself.

If I had no neighbors, I’d put on panties and dance madly in my backyard, twirling a baton to show how happy my weight loss makes me. I lost weight for myself – mainly to regain my energy as I was continually exhausted at my peak weight.

What I didn’t expect were the side effects of weight loss.

Strange things can occur. For me it was bladder prolapse.

In November 2021, I was taking a brisk walk with my son when I felt a shooting pain in my vagina. I came to a sudden stop, dug my heels into the pavement and collapsed. 20

It took me several seconds to catch my breath. I could see my pain, manifesting as stars, in my closed eyelids. It hasn’t calmed down.

I spent the rest of the slow walk to my car taking my crotch in a continuous, poorly executed dance routine. My son was walking beside me leaning sideways, hovering, and very scared

It was an unusual pain, something I had never felt before. There was a strong pressure around my lips. The whole ride home was uncomfortable. Even before I came home and barricaded myself in my bathroom with a hand mirror, I felt there was some kind of growth in my private parts.

Rosa with her children (Photo: Supplied)

I was in pain, trying to figure out what was going on in my body, and it felt weird looking at my vagina in a mirror. Even though I was a woman in my fifties, I rarely watched it. I was too embarrassed.

My gynecologist saw me soon after I called her office, frantic and in tears about the big pink lump coming out of my vagina. Once she finished her exam, she told me that my bladder had collapsed. This is called bladder prolapse. I had never heard of it before.

My doctor was stunned. She told me that bladder prolapse (POP) is extremely common in middle-aged women after menopause, especially those who have had children.

I found that POP affects one in four women in their 40s and one in three in their 60s – affecting half of all women in their 80s.

My doctor He told me that my uterus was fine, and that before my weight loss, my pelvic floor was not extremely weakened, the usual cause of any prolapse. My years of Monday night Pilates may have helped.

My bladder had just made an unexpected dive. She referred me to Surgery – Anterior Vaginal Prolapse Repair.

I wanted to know why POP happened to me, specifically. Why did my bladder feel the need to put on Speedos and swan dive? And then she said an interesting thing. She said my extreme weight loss most likely contributed to my sudden bladder prolapse.

Rosa before her weight loss

Rosa before her weight loss (Picture: Supplied)

I was mystified. I thought I lost weight to improve my health because my various doctors all complained about the positive effects of losing weight.

“Lose weight and you will be cured of all your ailments! Life will be perfect!’ they might as well have said. “There are no bad side effects to losing a huge amount of weight. All positive! Your arthritis will decrease. You can become a long-distance marathon runner, after all. You’ll sleep better. Stress less. Your heart will be in better health.

On this last point, my gynecologist beamed: “You are heart healthy,” she told me. She declared that my heart was now “happy”. Real happiness. But now my vagina was angry.

I endured five months with a prolapsed bladder, awaiting surgery. I purchased three pairs of prolapse support briefs from Amazon. The built-in compression bands kept my prolapse hidden. I was able to live my days, with a slight discomfort.

Finally, on March 28, 2022, I had my POP surgery. At 11 a.m., I had an IV inserted into my arm under general anesthesia. I greeted my surgeon. At 11:03 a.m., I was asleep. I woke up groggy and parched, surgery over, at 11:35 a.m.


I felt strange looking in a mirror at my vagina. Even though I was a woman in my fifties, I rarely watched it (Photo: Rosa Nagle)

I was prescribed antibiotics and the first three days of my recovery were horrible. My abdomen was throbbing and I couldn’t sleep. The pain gradually subsided.

six weeks and Four post-op visits with the surgeon later, I was completely healed, pain free, vagina intact and back to my daily routine. I was even able to have normal, satisfying sex with my husband in May.

My suggestion to anyone considering weight loss is to talk to your doctors first. Ask your gynecologist about the condition of your pelvic floor, then communicate with your gynecologist and your general practitioner. I would have liked to do that! I would have used my groin compression underwear before I started dieting, no matter how unsexy they are.

I know it’s hard for women to talk about our vaginas. I was raised to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude about my vagina. With my strict Catholic upbringing, “don’t look, don’t touch” was the subliminal message. This enrages me. I was conditioned to ignore part of my own body.

My POP experience shows that this conditioning extends to the medical field. Women are not informed about common conditions, such as organ prolapse. We are on a need-to-know basis, and we only learn about prolapse when and if it happens to us.

We are not even told a simple fact that extreme weight loss in our abdomens can loosen our pelvic muscles. My advice is – be bold. Look at your vagina in a mirror every week. Note the changes. There should be no shame associated with any part of our body. Ask and tell.

Alas, my weight loss was worth it. I feel tireless. I have attained the “happy heart”.

Fortunately, my vagina is happy now too.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact us by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk.

Share your opinions in the comments below.

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