The dropping of the bladder, sometimes also called a fallen bladder or referred to by the medical term cystocele, is a condition that affects women. A wall separates a woman’s bladder and vagina, and when the wall becomes weak, the bladder can drop down into the vagina. Risk factors for a cystocele include women who have given birth or have had a hysterectomy. Aging is another risk factor for bladder dropping. Women who notice signs of this phenomenon are urged to discuss the issue with their doctors. Cystocele is measured in grades, with grade 1 being mild, grade 2 more serious and grade 3 advanced.
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A feeling of pressure of fullness in the pelvic region could be a sign that a woman’s bladder has dropped. The cause of the pressure is the added weight of the bladder that has lowered itself into the vagina. The pressure may worsen while standing or when straining during a cough or sneeze.
The dropping of the bladder can cause the involuntary leakage of urine, called stress incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs during any act of physical exertion: sneezing, coughing, laughing, carrying heavy objects and even sex. Women who have a moderate cystocele might also experience pain during sexual intercourse.
The appearance of bulging tissue is a sign that the bladder has dropped, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). A woman herself may notice the protrusion of a grade 2 or 3 cystocele when she stands or sits. The bladder may retreat when she is lying in a prone position. Doctors may be able to diagnose a cystocele by examination alone when the condition has become advanced.
Women who have a fallen bladder often experience frequent or recurring urinary tract infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. Recurring bladder infections alone most likely do not point to a cystocele but may accompany other symptoms of the condition.