A woman's reproductive and pelvic organs are held in place with a network of muscles, ligaments and tissues. These support structures can weaken, allowing the bladder, vagina, and even the rectum to sag and droop — causing pain and symptoms that can disrupt your daily life.
A cystocele occurs when the wall that separates the bladder and vagina weakens and the bladder sags down into the vaginal space. Cystoceles can be mild, sagging only slightly into the vagina, to severe as the bladder actually bulges out of the vaginal opening.
To learn more about cystocele diagnosis and treatment, please call (718) 743-0505 or contact us online.
The most common cystocele symptoms include:
- Leaking urine
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Painful sex
Cystoceles occur when the supporting muscles around the bladder weaken. The most common causes include:
- Menopause (less estrogen to keep muscles strong)
- Frequent heavy lifting or straining during bowel movements
There are three grades of cystoceles:
- Grade one is mild, and your provider may need to do more than a physical exam to verify its presence.
- For grade 2 and 3, your provider will be able to diagnose a cystocele based on your history and symptoms and during a physical examination. Because grade 2 and 3 sag more deeply into (or even out of) the vagina, it will be easier to see the bladder.
The treatment protocol depends on how severe your cystocele is. If yours is mild, your provider may suggest watchful waiting and recommend that you avoid activities that might make the cystocele worse, like heavy lifting or straining.
If you have some symptoms but they are not severe, you may be able to use a pessary to support the bladder. A pessary is a plastic device that's placed inside the vagina that can support the bladder from underneath. Pessaries come in many different sizes and shapes. Your provider can help you find the right one. Other treatment options your healthcare provider may recommend include pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises and electrical stimulation. Physical therapy by a therapist skilled in pelvic treatment can also provide substantial relief.
Finally, you may need surgery if your cystocele is severe or problematic. During surgery, your provider will make small incisions in your abdomen to reach the vagina and bladder. He or she will work to tighten sagging muscles and add supportive devices as needed to prevent the bladder from falling again.
Surgery for a cystocele repair usually requires a couple of days in the hospital, you will probably go home with a catheter. You may need to keep the catheter for a week or two while your bladder heals. You should be able to return to normal activities in four to six weeks.
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To learn more about cystocele treatment, please call (718) 743-0505 or contact us online.