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The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and other tissues that support several abdominal organs, including the bladder. If the pelvic floor becomes weakened or damaged — for example, during childbirth — the bladder can fall and start bulging into the vagina.

This is called cystocele, or prolapsed bladder. It is one type of pelvic organ prolapse.

Cystocele causes

Pelvic floor damage leading to cystocele most often results from the following:

Cystocele symptoms

Common symptoms of cystocele include the following:

  • Feeling that something is bulging into your vagina
  • Feeling that something is about to fall out of your vagina
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Feeling that you have not completely emptied your bladder after urinating

How can I get help for cystocele?

If you have one or more of the above symptoms and they don’t go away, speak with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN. If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. 

At Rush, you also have the option of contacting the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health, which is designed to address the full range of issues related to pelvic conditions, including pelvic pain. The program has a coordinator who will help you navigate the multiple specialists you might need to see to find relief.

Care for cystocele at Rush

If you are diagnosed with cystocele, your treatment will depend on many factors:

  • Your age
  • Your overall health
  • The severity of the problem
  • Whether you are planning to become pregnant in the future

Your care at Rush may involve one or more of the following:

Nonsurgical treatments

  • Avoiding strain: If your cystocele is not bothering you, your doctor may recommend simply avoiding activities that could make it worse. These include heavy lifting or exercise that strains the area.
  • Physical therapy: Doctors and pelvic floor physical therapists at Rush can work with you to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This can help improve bothersome symptoms and protect you from or help with urinary incontinence.
  • Pessary: Doctors at Rush can fit you for this device, which you insert in your vagina to support your pelvic floor organs.
  • Estrogen therapy: Your doctor at Rush may recommend estrogen therapy, which can help strengthen pelvic tissue. And if you are planning to have cystocele surgery, taking estrogen beforehand can promote faster healing afterward.


If your cystocele is causing severe discomfort or significantly interfering with your quality of life, you may need surgery to repair it.

Skilled urogynecologists and pelvic reconstructive surgeons at Rush offer several methods of putting the vagina back in place and tightening the pelvic floor muscles to properly support the bladder. They may operate through your vagina or through your abdomen.

Whenever possible, they use minimally invasive procedures that require only small incisions.  Minimally invasive techniques can lead to less scarring and pain, as well as faster recovery times. These techniques include laparoscopic and robotic surgery.

Why choose Rush for cystocele care

  • Pioneering care for pelvic and abdominal health: More than a decade ago, Rush became the first academic medical center in Chicago to create a pelvic health program focused exclusively on providing care for patients with incontinence, vaginal pain, cystocele and other pelvic and abdominal conditions.
  • Specially trained physical therapists: At Rush, you can see physical therapists with special training in pelvic floor conditions. They will draw on their knowledge and expertise to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can improve bothersome symptoms.

Departments and programs that treat this condition