Bladder prolapse, vaginal prolapse or cystocele is a problem that many women experience, it refers to the feeling of a ball coming from the vaginal opening. The vaginal canal is a long tube that shares a wall with the bladder and the rectum. Imagine the pelvic organs like a duplex apartment with the vagina on the second floor, the rectum on the first floor and the bladder on the third floor. Specifically, a cystocele refers to loss of support of the wall shared between the bladder and the vagina or in other words the second and third floor. 

What does Bladder Prolapse mean for me?

Bladder prolapse is not usually a harmful problem. It is more common is women who are older, who have had children, women with chronic constipation, chronic coughing, lifting or with poor connective tissue. It may become more obvious at the end of the day or after strenuous activity. In many cases prolapse is not bothersome and so treatment is not always necessary. If you have mild symptoms a “watch and see” approach is reasonable.  

Signs that prolapse should be treated include:

  • Trouble with emptying your bladder
  • Difficulty with walking or sitting 
  • Pain in the vaginal canal
  • Bleeding from the exposed tissue 

Treatment of Bladder Prolapse 

The decision for treatment of bladder prolapse is made based on your symptoms and include surgical as well as non-surgical options. Two common non-surgical treatment options include pelvic floor physical therapy or Kegel exercises and the use of silicone vaginal support devices called Pessaries. Surgery may be necessary if Kegel exercises or Pessaries don’t work. In isolated bladder prolapse a procedure called a Cystocele Repair or Anterior Repair may be necessary to correct the problem. In the majority of cases your surgery is performed through an incision made in the vagina. Surgery is usually safe and typically last about sixty minutes. The success rate for surgery depends on whether other procedures for prolapse are performed at the same time but is generally greater than 70% with the majority of patients feeling satisfied after surgery. 

Take Home on Bladder Prolapse

  • This is a common problem seen in women
  • It is not typically a harmful problem
  • Safe and effective treatment options are available if your symptoms are bothersome
  • Speak to your OBGYN if you feel like you have a symptoms of bladder prolapse


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