What Is a Prolapse of the Female Urethra?

Urethral prolapse occurs when the tissues surrounding the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, sag downward into the vagina, according to WebMD. When the muscles and tissues surrounding the urethra no longer offer adequate support, the urethra can widen and curve.

A bladder prolapse often develops at the same time as the urethral prolapse, explains WebMD, and both prolapses can press against the wall of the vagina. The prolapses are usually the result of damage from a vaginal birth. Symptoms include urinary incontinence, difficulty urinating and pain during intercourse. If symptoms interfere with daily activities, the bladder and urethra are repaired through an incision in the wall of the vagina. The surgery pulls together the torn or loose tissue in the bladder or urethra and strengthens the vaginal wall.

The risks of urethral prolapse repair include bladder injury, infection, urinary retention or incontinence, development of a fistula, and painful intercourse, notes WebMD. About 2 out of every 10 women who under the surgery experience another prolapse of the urethra or bladder. Diagnostic tests for pelvic organ prolapse include a bladder function test, a pelvic floor strength test, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound and cystoscopy, states Mayo Clinic.