A prolapsed bladder can be extremely painful. It can also impair your quality of life. However, there are a variety of effective treatments ranging from estrogen therapy to surgery. By consulting with a qualified health care provider, you will be able to identify this condition, understand its causes and find relief with an appropriate treatment.
The bladder is the organ that is responsible for storing urine. When it reaches a certain point of fullness, you get the feeling that you need to urinate. This is the normal process. However, in some cases the muscles that support the bladder, such as the vaginal wall, can become weak or loose with age. If this happens, the bladder will descend into the vagina, causing pain, incontinence and difficulty urinating. This is called bladder prolapse or a cystocele.
A prolapsed bladder can be caused by a variety of events. The most common is childbirth, which can damage or stress the vaginal wall, leaving it weak and unable to support the bladder. Straining heavily during a bowel movement or while lifting an object can cause pelvic floor damage and prolapse. Likewise, menopause weakens the vaginal muscles since estrogen is no longer produced, which is responsible for pelvic floor tone.
The signs and symptoms of a bladder prolapse are fairly obvious. Women will notice a lump of tissue in the vagina that previously wasn't there. It may feel like a soft ball. However, the lower abdomen will likely hurt or feel uncomfortable. It may be hard to urinate or to empty the bladder all the way. Incontinence is also common, especially stress incontinence, which occurs when you exert yourself. Sexual intercourse will likely be painful and bladder infections will be more frequent.
There are many treatments available for a prolapsed bladder. Sometimes, estrogen therapy is effective. This can help rebuild the vaginal muscles so the bladder is better supported. Estrogen creams or supplements are the most common applications. A pessary is another option, which is a device inserted into the vagina to hold the bladder into proper position. There are pessaries that can be removed by the patient to clean and disinfect and those that require the doctor's assistance for removal.
If the prolapse is too advanced, surgery will likely be required. An incision is made through the vagina to push the bladder back into its proper position. The vaginal wall is then given reinforcement so the prolapse does not reoccur. Most of the time, women are sent home soon after surgery and a full recovery can be expected within six weeks' time.