Prolapsed Bladder Overview
The bladder is a hollow organ in the pelvis that stores
urine. The pressure created when the bladder fills with urine is what causes the
urge to urinate. During urination, the urine travels from the bladder and out
the body through the urethra.
In women, the front wall of the vagina supports the
bladder. This wall can weaken or loosen with age. Significant bodily stress such
as childbirth can also damage this part of the vaginal wall. If it deteriorates
enough, the bladder can prolapse, meaning it is no longer supported and descends
into the vagina. This maytrigger problems such as urinary difficulties, discomfort, and stress incontinence (urine leakage caused by sneezing, coughing, exertion, etc).
- Prolapsed bladders (also called cystoceles or fallen bladders) are separated into4 grades based on how far the bladder droops into the vagina.
- Grade 1 (mild): Only a small portion of the bladder
droops into the vagina.
- Grade 2 (moderate): The bladder droops enough to be
able to reach the opening of the vagina.
- Grade 3 (severe): The bladder protrudes from the
body through the vaginal opening.
- Grade 4 (complete): The entire bladder protrudes
completely outside the vagina; usually associated with other forms of pelvic
organ prolapse (uterine prolapse, rectocele, enterocele).
Prolapsed bladders are commonly associated with menopause. Prior to
menopause, women's bodies create the hormone estrogen, which helps keep the
muscles in and around the vagina strong. Women's bodies stop creating estrogen
after menopause, and those muscles tend to weaken as a result.
George Lazarou, MD, FACOG
Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS
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