Words like cystocele are not commonly tossed around at dinner parties. This term, however, is an important one for many women to know. A cystocele may sound like something that has formed in the body. On the contrary, this term describes the falling, drop, or herniation of the bladder. We may also refer to cystocele as bladder prolapse.
Cystocele is resultant from stretching and weakening of the ligaments that support the bladder. The amount of laxity in these structures leads to various grades of cystocele.
- Grade 1 cystocele is the mildest form, in which the bladder has descended slightly into the vaginal canal.
- Grade 2, or moderate cystocele, has allowed the bladder to drop to the vaginal opening.
- Grade 3, the most severe form of cystocele, involves bulging of the bladder through the vaginal opening.
How Would You Know?
Ideally, a cystocele can be discovered before it presents visible bulging. How might you know if the bladder has begun to drop? Common indications include:
- Urinary frequency, or a sense of needing to urinate.
- Stress urinary incontinence may suggest that the urethra has stretched. Stress urinary incontinence is also a common side effect of a weak pelvic floor.
- Painful intercourse.
- Pelvic pain, lower back pain, or a sense of heaviness or fullness in the pelvic region.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections.
If any of these symptoms are the norm, we encourage you to contact our Palm Desert Urology office to schedule a consultation. Treatment to repair cystocele can prevent further prolapse and improve quality of life.
How is a cystocele treated?
Not all cystocele cases require surgery. This is why early diagnosis is so valuable. When possible, conservative methods of treatment may include:
- Development of a Kegel exercise program. Women of all ages can benefit from the regular performance of Kegel exercises. The controlled contractions of the pelvic floor muscles restore strength that better supports structures including the bladder.
- Symptoms may improve with weight loss or hormone replacement therapy.
- Bladder training may include scheduled bathroom visits.
- Bladder control may be supported by limiting the consumption of diuretic liquids such as coffee.
Surgical repair may be necessary in more severe cases of cystocele. Surgery involves reconstructing the ligaments and the bladder so a normal position is regained. Sometimes, a mesh graft may be inserted to support the vaginal structure further. Full recovery from surgery usually occurs over a six-week period.