22.07.2014 Naturopathy

Natural Therapies for Prolapse (Part 2)

Natural therapies can assist in ongoing management of bladder and uterine prolapse to avoid surgery, says naturopath Lyn Craven

Prolapsed Bladder

Bladders can prolapse if other organs prolapse on top of them. A weak pelvic floor also plays a role along with weakened muscles and ligaments.

In women, the front wall of the vagina helps support the bladder and this can be weakened during childbirth with continual pregnancies. In some women, further weakening can then trigger prolapse into the vagina. This can cause problems with urination and possibly result in incontinence in the most severe cases. A bladder prolapse can be minor, classified as Grade 1 or severe being Grade 4, with variations in between. In severe cases, the entire bladder protrudes outside the vagina and often other internal organs are severely prolapsed requiring surgery.

Hormonal changes can trigger tissue weakness in both the bladder and vaginal wall. Oestrogen is the important hormone that maintains integrity and once a woman is menopausal or post menopausal, a diminished level of this hormone is another contributing factor. Again, straining when eliminating the colon, or lifting items that are too heavy or doing it incorrectly all contribute to a weakened pelvic floor and surrounding muscles.

A Case Study

One woman who had experienced a minor bladder prolapse after childbirth fortunately sought help straight away and did not allow it to become chronic. Bowen therapy was applied and some dietary changes were made to ensure no foods would irritate the bladder and contribute to weakness. Appropriate herbs were formulated and she was shown specific exercises. Soon enough she was improving so that she no longer had to seek out public toilets when out shopping! She continued with pelvic floor exercises and received ongoing Bowen therapy as a management strategy. She also continued with herbal remedies for a couple more months even though she was seeing improvement. This is the best thing to do. Often people cease treatments too soon, just as they are beginning to improve. It is far better to continue a short while longer to ensure the strength and integrity of tissues, muscles and ligaments is reinforced.

Many people prefer to attend on a regular basis over an extended period to ensure the body is aligned and their physiology and metabolism are balanced so they can avoid medical intervention and disease. Their overall health and energy levels are optimised continually and anti aging programs can be set in place. This is what Natural Medicine practitioners are good at - prevention by getting to the root cause of the problem and ongoing management with natural remedies at all times.

What can you do?

Some women may prefer to opt for surgery. However complications can arise with any type of surgery so please find out as much as you can and always seek a second opinion.

A few years ago I had a discussion with a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor weakness and who recommended that women avoid surgery since each operation holds the potential for more side effects. I was told that three surgeries is the maximum for any woman as after the third operation doctors can no longer tighten up the pelvic floor. Better to practise pelvic floor exercises, meet with a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor weakness, learn Pilates and/or yoga and seek out a qualified Bowen therapist or acupuncturist to help lift the bladder and pelvic floor. Get expert advice. Once you have mastered some of the exercises you can practise them at home. And it's a good idea to have regular monthly treatments.

Some of the recommendations we discussed last month for helping with prolapsed colon (Natural Therapies for Prolapse (part 1) also apply for the bladder.

Seek professional advice on the correct diet. Nutritional supplements can be helpful to establish strength and integrity with tissues and ligaments. If your mineral profile is out of balance then this can affect your overall health and the integrity of all tissues, muscles, ligaments and bones.

Avoid apple juice, cider, apple conserves and cider apple vinegar that contain malic acid. Malic acid can weaken the bladder.

Get a full hormonal blood test, including mineral levels. If in doubt contact a qualified naturopath who can also organise saliva testing for the endocrine system.

Uterine Prolapse

The uterus (also known as the womb) is held in place within the pelvis via different tissues, muscles and ligaments. Whenever childbirth is difficult or the baby is large, the ligaments and muscles can become overstretched and weaken. The uterus can also prolapse if neighbouring organs such as the transverse colon have prolapsed. A prolapsed uterus can put pressure on a healthy bladder and trigger a weakening here, causing the bladder itself to prolapse.

As women age, the pelvic floor muscles begin to weaken, either through childbirth, too much straining when eliminating the bowel over the years, or, most commonly, due to reduced oestrogen levels after menopause.

There are various degrees of severity - from the cervix drooping into the vagina, to the next stage drooping just inside the opening of the vagina, to the entire uterus being outside the vagina. This is called Procidentia, caused by severe weakening of all the supporting muscles. Ideally no woman allows a prolapse to reach this stage!

Other causes of prolapsed uterus could be many births, especially if complications have occurred either during pregnancy or delivery, fibroids that grow in the uterine cavity, being overweight or obese, any major surgery that takes place in or around the pelvic cavity which can leave scar tissue and sometimes weakness, lifting heavy items especially if you are doing this incorrectly, or a weak core.

Symptoms of uterine prolapse

You may experience difficulty urinating or feel you have to go more often, have difficulty eliminating your bowel, pain during sex, lower back pain, a heavy full feeling in the pelvis area, or a protruding tummy even when very slim. Menstrual cycles can be affected with you experiencing more pain and discomfort, irregularity or even very heavy bleeding.

An ultra sound can show clearly if a uterine prolapse has occurred - if it is minor and newly diagnosed, Bowen therapy and acupuncture can often help here along with relevant herbal remedies. Then you can avoid any medical intervention! However, if it is severe you may still require some surgery and these therapies can then help greatly in maintaining integrity and strength after surgery. These symptoms may also indicate serious underlying disease so it is important to visit your medical practitioner if a prolapse is ruled out as the cause.

A Case Study

Another example was a woman who had a uterine prolapse after birth. She experienced pain for over two years and received medical advice to have a hysterectomy. This woman also had hormonal imbalance, which had resulted in endometriosis. Appropriate remedies were given to her in the form of homoeopathy and herbal medicine to assist with normalising the hormones. She was treated with Bowen therapy on her first visit and her pain was resolved with one session! She continued to be pain-free ongoing. How easy and non invasive was that! She was encouraged to perform pelvic floor exercises and given appropriate minerals to help her uterine ligaments gain integrity and strength over time.

Importantly, don't hesitate and leave it too long enduring pain and discomfort if you have a newly diagnosed prolapse. Seek help from a Natural Medicine Practitioner. The above-mentioned therapies need to be introduced as soon as possible. Please be patient and diligent with the program. Once you feel much better, don't stop seeing the practitioner - simply space out your treatment visits. This way you will always ensure you can maintain some strength and integrity no matter the type of prolapse.

Read Part One of this series at http://novamagazine.com.au/article_archive/2014/2014-06-natural-therapies-for-prolapse.html

Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com

Disclaimer: Information presented in this column is not intended as medical advice but to advance the understanding of holistic nutrition and lifestyle and its place in a balanced approach to health. Readers are encouraged to be guided by their own healthcare professionals.

Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804