Anterior prolapse, also known as a cystocele (SIS-toe-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. Anterior prolapse is also called a prolapsed bladder.
Straining the muscles that support your pelvic organs may lead to anterior prolapse. Such straining occurs during vaginal childbirth or with chronic constipation, violent coughing or heavy lifting. Anterior prolapse also tends to cause problems after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.
For a mild or moderate anterior prolapse, 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 anterior prolapse, you may not notice any signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms occur, they may include:
Signs and symptoms often are especially noticeable after standing for long periods of time and may go away when you lie down.
A severely prolapsed bladder can be uncomfortable. It can make emptying your bladder difficult and may lead to bladder infections. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that bother you.
Your pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues 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 (anterior prolapse).
Possible causes of anterior prolapse include:
Diagnosis of anterior prolapse may involve:
To reduce your risk of developing anterior prolapse, try these self-care measures:
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 anterior prolapse.
To perform Kegel exercises, follow these steps:
Ask your health care provider for feedback on whether you're using the right muscles. Kegel exercises may be most successful when they're taught by a physical therapist and reinforced with biofeedback. Biofeedback involves using monitoring devices that help ensure you're tightening the proper muscles with optimal intensity and length of time.
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.
These factors may increase your risk of anterior prolapse: