The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Urethral prolapse occurs when the inner lining of the urethra sticks out. When this happens, the opening of the urethra looks like a small pink donut and seems larger than normal.
Children with urethral prolapse may not have any symptoms at all. Urethral prolapse occurs most commonly in young girls before puberty. Symptomatic children may present with blood spotting in their underwear or diapers. Some children may complain of tenderness when wiping themselves after going to the bathroom.
The exact cause of urethral prolapse is not known. It may happen if the tissues around the urethra are weak. It often happens before puberty starts, when girls have low levels of the estrogen hormone. African-American and Hispanic girls are more at risk for getting urethral prolapse. It is also more likely to happen to girls who have a history of heavy coughing, constipation, urinary tract infections, trauma or who are obese. All of these conditions can increase pressure inside the belly, which may lead to urethral prolapse.
Often, urethral prolapse is an incidental finding during routine examination. Upon examination, round doughnut-shaped tissue is observed protruding from the urethral opening.
Since some girls have no symptoms associated with the urethral prolapse, no treatment may be an option. If there are symptoms, we will discuss your options for treatment with you and your family. These treatments may include:
Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: August 2011