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Bladder Prolapse Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Patient sitting on a hospital table talking with a doctor

You may notice something feels wrong with your vagina. You may feel extra tissue in your vagina that feels a little bit like a ball. Paired with pelvic and lower back discomfort, this may be a sign that you have a prolapsed bladder. Use this guide to understand common bladder prolapses causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What is a Prolapsed Bladder?

In women, the pelvic floor muscles work in conjunction with the front wall of the vagina to support the bladder, a hollow organ that fills up with urine, signaling it’s time to go.

Bladder prolapse is separated into four grades, each characterized by how far the bladder has sunken into the vagina.

  • Grade 1 (mild): Only a small portion of the bladder droops inside the vagina.
  • Grade 2 (moderate): The bladder drops 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

Bladder Prolapse Symptoms:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Feeling like you still have ‘to go’ even immediately after urination
  • Tissue protruding from the vagina
  • Heaviness or pressure in the vaginal area
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Stress incontinence: leaking a little urine when sneezing, coughing, exercising or lifting heavy objects
  • Painful intercourse

Risk Factors and Other Causes of a Prolapsed Bladder

Prolapsed bladders in women are commonly associated with menopause. The lower levels of estrogen associated with menopause can cause the vaginal walls to weaken. If they deteriorate enough, the bladder is no longer supported and can fall into the vagina. This can cause urinary problems such as stress incontinence.

Other risk factors for bladder prolapse are:

  • Childbirth
  • Surgery, such as a hysterectomy
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Excessive strain on the pelvic muscles from things like long-term constipation, lifting heavy objects or weight gain
  • Chronic coughing (or other lung problems)

Bladder Prolapse Diagnosis

Bladder prolapse is diagnosed only by a health care provider. If you think you have a prolapsed bladder, reach out to your doctor and tell him or her about the symptoms you have been experiencing. Together you can discuss a treatment plan.

How to Fix a Prolapsed Bladder Without Surgery

The good news is that bladder prolapse is rarely a life-threatening condition. Most cases can be corrected non-surgically. Your treatment plan will depend largely on what grade prolapse you have.

If surgery is not needed, here are some at-home remedies to fix a bladder prolapse:

  • Kegel Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor. The pelvic floor is a system of muscles, ligaments and nerves that creates a basket of support for your bladder. Fitting these exercises into your routine can been pretty straightforward. As you’re sitting at your desk, flex and release the muscles used to hold in urine. Do this at least three times a day and you’ll start seeing results.
  • Lifestyle Changes. It may be recommended that you avoid lifting heavy objects. If you have chronic constipation, remedies to correct this are also recommended.
  • Pessary. A pessary is a device inserted into the vagina in order to provide support for the bladder. Pessaries require regular removal and cleaning in order to avoid infection. Depending on what kind of pessary you are fitted with, removal is performed by a doctor or at home. Some women find pessaries to be uncomfortable or that they easily fall out.
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy. Estrogen, which a woman’s body stops producing after menopause, can prompt the body to strengthen the muscles around the vagina and bladder. This can correct bladder prolapse in some mild to moderate cases. Hormone therapy isn’t for everyone. Consult your doctor or a women's health specialist to see if this treatment option is for you.

Surgery for a Pelvic Organ Prolapse

If you have severe bladder prolapse, surgery may be required. During surgery, a mesh support is inserted into the vaginal wall and the bladder’s position is corrected. This can be performed under general, regional or local anesthesia. Talk with your doctor for more information on surgery options and if it is required to fix your prolapsed bladder.

Protection for Bladder Prolapse & Incontinence

While you’re going through these treatments, it can be helpful to wear protection against little urine leaks resulting from your condition so you can feel as comfortable as possible. Always Discreet liners and pads come in a variety of different sizes and absorbencies to match urinary needs. Always Discreet liners and pads quickly turn liquid and odors into gel to keep you confident and comfortable throughout your day.