Bladder prolapse, or cystocele, occurs when the supportive structures in the pelvis weaken. It’s very common and can affect anyone, but it’s most prevalent in women. About half of women over 50 will experience some level of bladder prolapse, and around 12% of women in America may need surgery for it. 

While it’s not life-threatening, the symptoms can be uncomfortable and get in the way of daily living. To address this condition effectively, you need to understand what bladder prolapse is—its symptoms causes, diagnosis, and treatment options. In this blog, we’ll cover what you need to know about bladder prolapse so you can seek the right care. 


What is Bladder Prolapse? 

A prolapse occurs when an organ shifts out of its normal position because of weakened support structures. Bladder prolapse is one of the most common types of pelvic organ prolapse. It happens when the muscles and ligaments around your bladder and vaginal wall weaken, causing your bladder to sag into your vagina.


Doctors grade the severity of bladder prolapse on a scale from 1 to 3: 


  • Grade 1 is the mildest, where the bladder has only slightly dropped. 
  • Grade 2 is a bit more severe, with the bladder descending to the vaginal opening. 
  • Grade 3 is the most severe, where the bladder bulges significantly out of the vaginal opening. 


Doctors use these grades to decide what treatment would be best, whether it’s something simple or if surgery is needed. It’s important to catch it early and get it treated to avoid more problems down the line. 


What Bladder Prolapse Feels Like 

The sensation of bladder prolapse can vary from person to person and depends on the severity of the condition. Some individuals may experience: 

  • A feeling of pressure or heaviness in the pelvic area, especially when standing, lifting heavy objects, or coughing. 
  • Discomfort or pain in the vagina or pelvis. 
  • A bulging sensation or the feeling that something is coming out of the vagina.
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely, leading to frequent urination or urinary tract infections (UTIs). 
  • Challenges with inserting tampons or menstrual cups. 
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse. 
  • Increased frequency of urination 

These symptoms may worsen as the day progresses or during activities that increase abdominal pressure, such as lifting or straining. 



Contributing factors to bladder prolapse include: 

  • Pregnancy and Vaginal childbirth 
  • Genetic predisposition 
  • Obesity 
  • Hysterectomy 
  • Decreased estrogen levels associated with menopause
  • Aging
  • Heavy lifting
  • Constipation and straining 
  • Chronic cough 
  • Previous pelvic surgery 
  • Pelvic floor injuries 


Diagnosis and Tests 

Bladder prolapse is diagnosed by healthcare professionals specializing in urology or gynecology. Here’s how they typically test for it: 

  1. Medical History Review: Your healthcare provider will look into your medical background to uncover any factors that might contribute to bladder prolapse.
  2. Symptom Assessment: They will ask questions about your symptoms, including issues like tissue bulging, pelvic discomfort, urinary problems, and difficulties with menstrual products. 
  3. Physical Examination: A comprehensive physical exam, often including a pelvic exam, allows the healthcare provider to gauge the extent of the prolapse and identify any associated findings. 
  4. Urodynamic Testing: This test assesses your bladder’s capacity to hold and release urine, offering insights into bladder health and potential concerns. 
  5. Cystoscopy: In this procedure, a slim, illuminated tube equipped with a camera (cystoscope) is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to visualize its interior. This helps identify any anomalies such as deformities, obstructions, growths, or stones in the urinary tract. 


Checking yourself for signs of bladder prolapse can sometimes help, but there are limits to what you can find on your own. If you feel a bulge in your vagina and are able to push it back in, it might be a sign of a problem. But remember, only a doctor can know for sure. 

If you notice anything like tissue bulging or pelvic discomfort, it’s important to see a specialist in urology or gynecology asap. They can figure out what’s really going on and give you the right treatment and care that you need. 


Management and Treatment 

 Treatment for bladder prolapse depends on its severity and symptoms. Mild cases may be managed with lifestyle changes such as practicing pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), maintaining a healthy weight, and taking estrogen replacement therapy. For moderate to severe cases, surgical intervention such as anterior colporrhaphy may be necessary.


Anterior Colporrhaphy is a surgical procedure used to repair a weakness in the anterior vaginal wall. During this surgery, the weakened muscles and tissues supporting the bladder and urethra are reinforced with dissolvable sutures. This provides better support, preventing the bladder from bulging into the vaginal canal, and alleviating unpleasant symptoms.


Additionally, regular sexual activity can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Sexual activity promotes blood flow to the pelvic region and helps maintain muscle tone. 

Kegel Exercises for Women: Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Finding the Right Muscles

  • Identify your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop your urination mid-stream. This might be the trickiest part, but it’s crucial. 

How Many Reps 

  • Start with 5-second contractions, then relax for 5 seconds. Aim for 5 reps initially and gradually work up to 10-second contractions with breaks. 

Work Those Muscles 

  • Focus on both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Mix in quick contractions lasting 1-2 seconds, and longer holds lasting for 10 seconds. 

Things to Be Mindful Of 

  • Avoid flexing other muscles like your abdomen or thighs, and remember to breathe normally during the exercises. 

Consistency is Key 

  • Aim for at least 3 sets of 10 repetitions per day as you get comfortable with the routine.

Stay Positive 

  • Kegel exercises might feel awkward at first, but sticking with them pays off. They can improve bladder health and even enhance sexual pleasure over time. Keep at it! 

Living With Bladder Prolapse 

Living with bladder prolapse means managing symptoms and getting the right support when you need it. That might mean steering clear of things that make your symptoms worse, like lifting heavy things, and addressing ongoing issues like constipation. Staying in touch with your healthcare team keeps things on track and gives you the backup you need to manage this condition day to day. 


Votiva: Bladder Prolapse Treatment Option 

Votiva is a non-surgical treatment approved by the FDA to help with vaginal laxity, dryness, and painful intercourse. Using two handheld devices, the Forma V and Morpheus 8, these tools use radiofrequency waves to gently warm the area around the vagina. Forma V works on both inner and outer vaginal tissue, while Morpheus 8 focuses on tightening the skin around the labia 

majora. This encourages collagen production, addressing concerns like dryness and improving elasticity. Patients typically see results within a few weeks of undergoing treatment.


Bladder Prolapse Help in Brentwood, Tennessee 

If you’re dealing with symptoms of bladder prolapse or you’re worried about your pelvic health, you’re not alone. Cool Springs OBGYN in Brentwood, TN, has got your back! Our team is here to offer personalized care and treatment options just for you. Don’t wait any longer – reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. Let’s take the first step together towards improving your pelvic health and overall well-being. 


Frequently Asked Questions | Bladder Prolapse 

How fast does bladder prolapse get worse? 

Bladder prolapse, like a hernia, can happen quickly or take years to develop. 


Can a prolapsed bladder fix itself? 

Most prolapsed bladders aren’t life-threatening and can be treated without surgery if they’re mild. Surgery can usually fix severe cases. 


What makes bladder prolapse worse? 

Things like pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, heavy lifting, and straining on the toilet can make bladder prolapse worse. But there are ways you can help prevent or manage it yourself, like a healthy lifestyle and kegel exercises. 


When is surgery necessary for prolapse? 

If your prolapse causes pain, bladder or bowel issues, or stops you from doing what you love, surgery might be the way to go. But there’s a chance it could happen again afterward. 


At what age is bladder prolapse surgery common? 

Many women in their 40s and 50s have bladder prolapse surgery, and even younger women are opting for it more often to tackle these issues. 


Can a prolapse fall all the way out? 

In some cases, your uterus can slip partway into your vagina, creating a bulge. In more severe cases, it can come all the way out, which is called a complete prolapse.