A cystocele is a type of pelvic organ prolapse that occurs when the tissues and muscles that hold the bladder in place are stretched or weakened. This can cause the bladder to move from its normal position and press against the wall of the vagina, forming a bulge.
A bladder prolapse may develop if a woman's pelvic muscles become damaged by pregnancy, labor, childbirth, or a previous pelvic surgery or are weakened by aging. In rare cases, a cystocele can be present at birth (congenital).
A cystocele may be associated with leaking of urine (incontinence), especially during coughing, laughing, or jumping. Or it may cause difficulty emptying the bladder, which may progress to a bladder infection (cystitis).
Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, called Kegel exercises, may help relieve some symptoms of a cystocele. A doctor may recommend use of a pessary, an instrument placed in the vagina to support the uterus. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.