About the disease
Cystocele and rectocele are similar conditions, each involving the slippage of an organ out of its original position. Such slippage, known as a prolapse, can cause problems for the surrounding tissue and the functioning of neighboring organs. When the supportive tissue between the bladder and the vagina becomes weakened, causing the bladder to be displaced, this is called cystocele; when the supportive tissue between the rectum and vagina becomes weakened, this is known as rectocele.
Childbirth is the most common cause of cystocele and rectocele. This process puts a lot of pressure on the tissue that separates the vagina from the bladder and the rectum. Another common cause of cystocele and rectocele can be long-term strain of the bladder and pelvic muscles. It can develop due to strenuous physical labor or heavy-lifting, which is why some athletes have problems in this area. Long-term constipation can also put extra strain on the pelvic muscles, which can lead to the development of either cystocele or rectocele. There have been some cases where women have developed both conditions.
The menopause causes estrogen levels to drop, thereby weakening the tissue around the reproductive organs. Women of this age bracket are therefore more likely to develop cystocele and rectocele. In mild forms of cystocele and rectocele, women may not even realize they have suffered a prolapse, feeling only mild pain when straining or lifting heavy objects. In severe cases, however, there can be a visible bulge and the pain can be continuous and acute.
- Feeling of fullness in vagina or in the pelvic area in general
- Discomfort when lifting heavy objects or when coughing
- Feeling of not emptying the bladder completely after urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse or urination
- During a general examination, the gynecologist will examine the patient’s vaginal walls and uterus to determine if there is a visible bulging of the tissue.
- The patient may be asked to stand up, to see if the bulge is visible while standing.
- The doctor may ask the patient to contract her pelvic muscles to seehow strong they are.
- The doctor will ask the patient whether she has any problems during urination, such as feeling like the bladder has not been completely emptied.
- A hormonal test can check the levels of estrogen in the blood.
- An ultrasound of the pelvic area can assess the stage of the prolapse and establish which organs have been affected by it.
- The implantation of a free synthetic loop strengthens the pelvic muscles and gives them support. It also pushes the prolapsed tissue back into its correct anatomic position.
- Plastic reconstruction is a surgical procedure, whereby the pelvic organs that have been misplaced by the prolapse are repositioned into their correct anatomic place.
- The surgical implantation of a pessary (a rubber or plastic ring that supports the prolapsed tissue) can prevent a further prolapse in the future.
- Estrogen therapy helps to strengthen the muscles in the pelvis.