Connective tissue separates the pelvic organs. The tissue, called fascia, is attached to nearby muscles. The fascia and muscles support the bladder, vagina, and rectum. Defects in the fascia can cause cystoceles and rectoceles.

In a cystocele, there is a defect in the fascia between the bladder and vagina. This allows a part of the bladder wall to bulge into the vagina. There are three grades of cystocele:

  • Grade 1: mildest form, where the bladder drops only partway into the vagina
  • Grade 2: moderate form, where the bladder has sunken far enough to reach the opening of the vagina
  • Grade 3: most severe form, where the bladder sags through the opening of the vagina

Cystocele
si55551974_96472_1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

In a rectocele, there is a defect in the fascia between the rectum and the vagina. This allows part of the wall of the rectum to bulge into the vagina.

Rectocele
si55551976_96472_1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The sooner that a cystocele or rectocele is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.

The walls between the vagina and bladder or rectum can be damaged by one or more of the following factors:

  • Difficult vaginal births:
    • Multiple births
    • The use of forceps to assist delivery
    • Perineal tears during delivery
    • Episiotomy during birth
  • Strain from lifting heavy objects
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation
  • Weakening of vaginal muscles caused by a lack of estrogen after menopause