Incontinence Home > Cystocele

When a woman has a cystocele, it means that the wall between her bladder and her vagina has weakened, allowing the bladder to droop into the vagina. It can result from muscle straining while doing heavy lifting, repeated straining during bowel movements, or during childbirth. Treatment options range from no treatment (for mild cases) to surgery (for serious cases).

What Is a Cystocele?

A cystocele (also known as fallen bladder) occurs when the wall between a woman's bladder and her vagina weakens, and allows the bladder to droop into the vagina. A cystocele may cause discomfort, and problems with emptying the bladder.

What Causes It?

A cystocele can result from muscle straining while giving birth. Other kinds of straining -- such as heavy lifting, or repeated straining during bowel movements -- may also cause the bladder to fall.
The hormone, estrogen helps keep the muscles around the vagina strong. When women go through menopause (when they stop having periods), their bodies stop making estrogen, so the muscles around the vagina and bladder may grow weak.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cystocele?

There are two kinds of problems normally seen with a cystocele:
  • Unwanted urine leakage
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder.
In some women, a fallen bladder stretches the opening into the urethra, causing urine leakage when the woman coughs, sneezes, laughs, or moves in any way that puts pressure on the bladder.


A cystocele is mild (grade 1) when the bladder droops only a short way into the vagina. With more severe (grade 2) cystocele, the bladder sinks far enough to reach the opening of the vagina. The most advanced (grade 3) cystocele occurs when the bladder bulges out through the opening of the vagina.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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