By her own account, Linda Gall doesn’t sit still much.

She and her husband, John, always have their sights set on their next outdoor adventure. Boating, fishing, hiking, camping, swimming—they love it all.

“We do a lot with our kids and our grandkids—try to keep them outside, keep them moving,” said Gall, 60, a substance abuse prevention specialist in Gaylord, Michigan. “We’re real active.”

Which is why when she felt something in her pelvic cavity go “pop” while doing crunches at her gym, Gall didn’t waste time wondering what had happened. She visited her gynecologist.

The doctor identified the problem as a pelvic organ prolapse—a bulge that forms when a neighboring organ forces its way through the vaginal wall.

Gall’s gynecologist referred her to Nima Shah, MD, a urogynecologist with Spectrum Health Medical Group.

Dr. Shah diagnosed Gall’s bulge as a cystocele, or prolapsed bladder—the most common type of prolapse she encounters. The connective tissue between the bladder and the vagina had weakened, allowing the bladder to sag.

“Literally, it’s the skin of the vagina that’s … being pushed down,” Dr. Shah explained. “It’s almost like a hernia.”

Treatment options

Dr. Shah walked Gall through various treatment options, including pelvic floor physical therapy and the use of pessaries—soft silicone vaginal inserts that can support the prolapsed tissue, holding it in place.

She also explained the best surgical option—going through the vagina to reinforce the weakened support tissue with layers of stitches that help prop up the bladder. As the stitched area heals, the scar tissue provides added support.

Though surgery wasn’t mandatory in Gall’s case, she opted to have the cystocele surgically repaired so she could return to life without the nuisance of a bulge.

“Once that ‘pop’ happened, that complicated things,” Gall said. For example, the water pressure in a swimming pool would cause the prolapse to swell. And when she went to the gym, she had to alter her workout routines.

“Jumping jacks were not a good thing to do,” she said, laughing. “I could do the upper-body part of the jumping jacks, but I would just tap my feet out to the side.”

As to why the prolapse happened, Dr. Shah named numerous risk factors. In Gall’s case, her age, vaginal births and a previous hysterectomy likely played a role.

“Chronic heavy lifting can also put you at risk,” she said. “And sometimes it just happens.”

The surgery, which Dr. Shah performed at the Spectrum Health Surgery Center at 4069 Lake Drive, turned out to be a great choice. The hour-long outpatient procedure went smoothly and Gall healed well, with “zero pain,” she said.

Gall’s positivity and wit played a big role in her healing, Dr. Shah said.

“She just had such an amazing attitude, she’s so positive—and (she) and her husband are hilarious.”

No restrictions

Now that Gall is more than six weeks past her surgery date, she’s back to her on-the-go lifestyle.

“I don’t ever place lifelong restrictions,” Dr. Shah said. “After the six weeks and they’re healed, I think they should go back to normal life, because that’s the whole point of surgery.”

Gall’s message for others experiencing a prolapse fits the way she lives: Be proactive. Don’t hesitate to have it repaired.

“Because for me it was such a positive experience, I would say, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ Because otherwise you’re living within limits,” she said.

“Why live life with limits if you don’t have to?”