What Is A Rectal Prolapse?

Rectal prolapse, while rare, can be an incredibly uncomfortable condition. Issues related to relieving yourself can be frustrating enough to not want to discuss them with your doctor, but if you suspect something is amiss with your ability to pass normal bowel movements, it’s important to have it checked out. In this article we will answer the questions “what is a rectal prolapse”, “what causes rectal prolapse”, and discuss rectal prolapse symptoms, types of rectal prolapse, and rectal prolapse treatment.  

What is a rectal prolapse?

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum or the lowest part of the large intestine pushes out of the body through the anus. While this may be uncomfortable, it rarely results in an emergent medical problem. However, the longer you have the condition, the worse it can get and the more it can affect a person’s quality of life.  

What causes rectal prolapse?

Generally, rectal prolapse is caused by weakening of the muscles that surround and keep the rectum in place. Causes of rectal prolapse can include:

  • Long-term constipation or chronic diarrhea

  • Straining during bowel movements over a long period of time

  • Aging as anal and nearby muscles naturally weaken with age

  • Previous injury to the anal or pelvic areas

Rectal Prolapse Symptoms

The symptoms of rectal prolapse include the feeling of a bulge or the appearance of a mass extending outside the anus. At first, you may only experience the prolapse during or after bowel movements; however, over time it can prolapse outside the anus long term and will need to be remedied. Other symptoms of rectal prolapse include:

  • The feeling of a bulge outside your anus

  • Seeing a red mass outside your anus

  • Pain in the anus

  • Bleeding from the rectum

Types of Rectal Prolapse

There are three different types of rectal prolapse. In the first type, the entire rectum sticks out of your anus. In the second type only part of the rectal lining comes out, and in the third, the rectum has completely dropped but hasn’t yet prolapsed through the anus.

Rectal Prolapse Treatment

In some cases minor rectal prolapse that is discovered early can be treated with at-home remedies. However, surgery will usually be necessary to repair the prolapse. There are two types of surgical approaches to rectal prolapse—either through the abdomen or through the rectum—and both correct the prolapse long term.

If you feel like something is amiss “down there” during a bowel movement or in general, call your colorectal specialist for an examination to diagnose your condition. Rectal prolapse is uncomfortable, but it’s also repairable with the right treatment.