Q: What are my options for dealing with bladder prolapse?
Bladder prolapse, also called a cystocele, occurs when a woman’s bladder descends into her vagina. In severe cases it may protrude from her body. It’s usually a chronic issue, which means that it stays the same or worsens over time. The exception to this rule is prolapse in patients who recently had a baby. Even a significant prolapse will often improve as a woman heals from delivery. Unfortunately, these patients are at higher risk of having prolapse come back in the future.
Some of the most common symptoms of prolapse include pelvic pressure, protruding tissue, difficulty urinating, and stress incontinence.
Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises may help improve prolapse. Given that exercise is free and relatively easy, this is worth a try. It is important to note that despite their best efforts, many women contract the wrong muscles while performing these exercises, which can actually make symptoms worse. Before committing yourself to years of daily Kegel exercises, I would recommend seeing a physical therapist with specialize training in pelvic floor therapy. We have several at Vancouver Clinic.
Up to 20 percent of women will eventually have surgery for either prolapse or urinary incontinence (leaking urine). Many more women never bring these issues up with their provider. If you are concerned about prolapse or incontinence you should mention it during a visit. It’s a common issue, yet many women are embarrassed to ask. We have many treatment options available and often surgery is not needed.
—Jacob Calvert, MD
Dr. Jacob Calvert is an OBGYN at Vancouver Clinic. He enjoys providing comprehensive prenatal care for low- and high-risk pregnancies. Dr. Calvert has received extensive training in minimally invasive surgery, including robotic surgery