A cystocele (SIS-to-seel) occurs when the supportive tissue between a woman's bladder and vaginal wall weakens and stretches, allowing the bladder to bulge into the vagina. A cystocele is also called a prolapsed bladder.
Straining the muscles that support your pelvic organs may lead to a cystocele. Such straining occurs during vaginal childbirth or with chronic constipation, violent coughing or heavy lifting. Cystoceles also tend to cause problems after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.
For a mild or moderate cystocele, nonsurgical treatment is often effective. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to keep the vagina and other pelvic organs in their proper positions.
In mild cases of cystocele, you may not notice any signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms occur, they may include:
Doctors may refer to a cystocele as an anterior prolapse, as the front (anterior) vaginal wall stretches and the bladder bulges down into the vagina.
When to see a doctor
Your pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that support your bladder and other pelvic organs. The connections between your pelvic floor muscles and ligaments can weaken over time, as a result of trauma from childbirth or chronic straining of pelvic floor muscles. When this happens, your bladder can slip down lower than normal and bulge into your vagina, resulting in a cystocele.
Possible causes of cystocele include:
A dropped or prolapsed bladder (cystocele) occurs when the bladder wall bulges into the vaginal space. It results when supporting muscles and tissues for the bladder give way. ...
These factors may increase your risk of cystocele:
Preparing for your appointment
Make an appointment with your family doctor or gynecologist if you have signs or symptoms of cystocele that bother you or interfere with your normal activities.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
For cystocele, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Besides the questions you prepare in advance, ask questions anytime during your appointment if you need clarification.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosis of a cystocele may involve:
Treatments and drugs
Treatment depends on how severe your cystocele is and whether you have any related conditions, such as a uterus that slips into the vaginal canal (prolapsed uterus). Mild cases — those with few or no obvious symptoms — typically don't require treatment. You could opt for a wait-and-see approach, with occasional visits to your doctor to see if your prolapse is worsening, along with self-care measures, such as exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
If self-care measures aren't effective, your doctor may recommend these options:
When surgery is necessary
If you're thinking about becoming pregnant, delay surgery until after you're done having children. Using a pessary may help relieve your symptoms in the meantime. The benefits of surgery can last for many years, but there's some risk of cystocele recurrence — which may mean another surgery at some point.
Dealing with incontinence
Lifestyle and home remedies
Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder and bowel. A strengthened pelvic floor provides better support for your pelvic organs and relief from symptoms associated with a cystocele.
To perform Kegel exercises, follow these steps:
Kegel exercises may be most successful when they're taught by a therapist using biofeedback. Biofeedback involves monitoring devices to help ensure that you're tightening the proper muscles with the optimal intensity and duration.
Once you've learned the proper method, you can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about anytime, whether you're sitting at your desk or relaxing on the couch.
To reduce your risk of developing a cystocele, try these self-care measures:
Last Updated: 2012-04-14
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