Weakening and stretching of the muscles and tissue between a woman's vagina and bladder cause a cystocele, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. A cystocele occurs when the bladder drops into the vagina.
Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, repetitive heavy lifting, obesity, straining to produce bowel movements and chronic coughing can cause the muscle weakness and stretching to occur, explains Mayo Clinic. Some women have a genetic predisposition to cystocele. The risk of this condition occurring increases with age, especially once a woman reaches menopause. The decline in estrogen that occurs following menopause allows the pelvic floor to weaken. Women who have had hysterectomies are also more prone to cystoceles.
Although women with mild cystoceles may experience no symptoms, those who do have symptoms may notice a vaginal bulge, a sensation that something is protruding from the vagina and fullness or heaviness in the pelvis, states the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. They may find it difficult to begin urination, feel that they cannot completely empty their bladders, and have frequent, urgent urination. They may also experience stress incontinence, in which urine leaks from the bladder when they laugh, cough or sneeze.
Women with mild cystoceles may need no treatment, says Cleveland Clinic. Some women may find it helpful to insert a pessary, a device placed in the vagina to keep the bladder situated properly. Surgery can create more support for the bladder by tightening some of the layers of tissue between organs.