Anterior prolapse (cystocele)

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.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

In mild cases of anterior prolapse, you may not notice any signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms occur, they may include:

  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in your pelvis and vagina
  • Increased discomfort when you strain, cough, bear down or lift
  • A feeling that you haven't completely emptied your bladder after urinating
  • Repeated bladder infections
  • Pain or urinary leakage during sexual intercourse
  • In severe cases, a bulge of tissue that protrudes through your vaginal opening and may feel like sitting on an egg

Signs and symptoms often are especially noticeable after standing for long periods of time and may go away when you lie down.

When to see a doctor

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.

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