*Cystocele (Fallen Bladder) Facts by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOE
- A cystocele occurs when the wall between a woman's bladder and her vagina weakens and allows the bladder to droop into the vagina.
- Symptoms of a cystocele include urine leakage and incomplete emptying of the bladder.
- Causes of cystocele include muscle straining during childbirth, straining from heavy lifting, repeated straining during bowel movements, and menopause.
- Treatment ranges from no treatment for a mild cystocele to surgery for a serious cystocele. A pessary (a device placed in the vagina to hold the bladder in place) may be recommended.
What is a cystocele?
A cystocele occurs when the wall between a woman's bladder and her vagina weakens and allows the bladder to droop into the vagina. This condition may cause discomfort and problems with emptying the bladder.
A bladder that has dropped from its normal position may cause two kinds of problems -- unwanted urine leakage and incomplete emptying of the bladder. In some women, a fallen bladder stretches the opening into the urethra, causing urine leakage when the woman coughs, sneezes, laughs, or moves in any way that puts pressure on the bladder.
A cystocele is mild -- grade 1 -- when the bladder droops only a short way into the vagina. With a more severe - grade 2 - cystocele, the bladder sinks far enough to reach the opening of the vagina. The most advanced -- grade 3 -- cystocele occurs when the bladder bulges out through the opening of the vagina.
What causes a cystocele?
A cystocele may result from muscle straining while giving birth. Other kinds of straining -- such as heavy lifting or repeated straining during bowel movements -- may also cause the bladder to fall. The hormone estrogen helps keep the muscles around the vagina strong. When women go through menopause -- that is, when they stop having menstrual periods -- their bodies stop making estrogen, so the muscles around the vagina and bladder may grow weak.