Rectal Prolapse: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments And More

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Rectal prolapse is a medical condition that can occur in children and adults of any age. However, older women are at a greater risk of having this problem because of increased pressure on pelvic floor muscles during vaginal deliveries.

Children who suffer from cystic fibrosis or chronic diarrhea can also suffer from this condition.

Rectal prolapse impacts smooth stool passing and causes stool leakage from the rectum and overall fecal incontinence.

Around 2.5 people in a thousand people can become victims of rectal prolapse. So, let’s learn about rectal prolapse, its symptoms, treatments, and more.

What Is Rectal Prolapse? 

What Is Rectal Prolapse?  

Medically, prolapse refers to a condition when a specific part of your body does not remain in its actual place and slips down. This “fall” happens when the supporting muscles become weak and fail to support the body part.

Rectal prolapse happens when the pelvic floor muscles cannot support the rectum, a part of the large intestine that falls to the anus.

Rectum is the place where stool is formed, and it boosts the urge to poop. When you feel the urge to defecate, a group of muscles pushes the stool outside your body through the anus.

But in rectal prolapse, the rectum slips down in a “telescope-style” into the anal canal and can even come out of it.

Aging is a normal cause for rectal prolapse, but many other factors leading to excessive straining on the muscles, helping in defecating, can lead to this condition.

Rectal Prolapse Causes 

Rectal Prolapse Causes  

Muscles holding the rectum in its place can become weak and cause rectal prolapse. But if you want to know what causes rectal prolapse, you have to figure out factors that weaken the essential muscles.

  • Aging
  • Vaginal deliveries and pregnancies
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pelvic injury or surgery
  • Damages Occur in the spinal cord or nerve
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal parasite infection
  • Coughing or sneezing for a prolonged period
  • Injury in the rectum
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Poor nutrition

What Are Rectal Prolapse Symptoms?

What Are Rectal Prolapse Symptoms?

The most prominent symptom of rectal prolapse is a bulky feeling in your anus. You will feel like that your anus is not cleared completely.

You will also notice a fleshy mass of red color coming out of your anus. With rectal prolapse, poop, mucus, and blood leaks out of the anus. As a result, you may always feel the area is excessively wet.

Anal pain and itching are other major symptoms of rectal prolapse. Based on the severity of the rectal prolapse, a person may also suffer from abdominal pain and discomfort.

How Is Rectal Prolapse Diagnosed? 

How Is Rectal Prolapse Diagnosed?  

A doctor diagnoses rectal prolapse after a thorough investigation of your medical history. Your rectum is also examined, and, in this process, the doctor asks you to activate the muscles and mimic the action of defecating.

The following tests are done for the diagnosis of rectal prolapse.

Electromyography (EMG) 

EMG finds whether the damaged nerves are impacting the movements of anal sphincters or circular muscles. This test is also ideal to examine muscle coordination.

Digital Rectal Exam 

In this exam, the functionalities and health of your rectum are diagnosed by inserting lubricated gloved fingers.


A colonoscopy is done under anesthesia. It tests the large intestine with the help of a flexible scope.


An MRI or X-ray method is used in this test to find out the muscle movements while pooping.

Barium Enema Of The Lower Gastrointestinal Tract 

This is a method where many X-rays of your lower gastrointestinal tract are taken. At the same time, a barium-filled tube is inserted through your rectum, and it supplies liquid barium.

A barium enema is commonly known as a colon X-ray.

Anorectal Manometry 

Anorectal manometry detects how strong and tight your anal circular muscles are. A catheter is inserted for the anorectal manometry test. 

These diagnosis methods are specific for the detection of weakened pelvic muscles or rectal relapse. However, rectal prolapse is associated with many other health conditions.

So, suppose a patient is diagnosed with rectal prolapse. In that case, the doctor will suggest some other tests to detect related health conditions like small bowel prolapse, bladder prolapse, rectocele, vaginal prolapse, pelvic floor dysfunction, and urinary incontinence.

Rectal Prolapse Treatments 

Rectal Prolapse Treatments  

Rectal prolapse needs proper treatments, even if your symptoms are not severe. If this condition is not treated on time, major health problems like chronic constipation, fecal incontinence, rectal ulcers, incarceration, strangulation, or gangrene in the rectum can occur.

Rectal and abdominal surgeries are two options for the treatment of rectal prolapse. Doctors usually go for abdominal surgeries if the person suffering from it is an adult and in otherwise good health.

Patients who are not suitable for abdominal surgeries go through rectal surgeries.

Rectopexy Or Abdominal Approach

Rectopexy, or abdominal approach to fix rectal prolapse, is mainly recommended by doctors due to its high success rate. It has as high as 97% success rate as a treatment for long-term cure of rectal relapse.

Rectopexy can be an open surgery or through the laparoscopic method. The surgeon uses stitching or meshes to bring back the rectum to its original position in the pelvis. To explain further, rectopexy attaches the rectum to the sacrum or back wall of the pelvis.

Suppose you suffer from chronic constipation, which, along with other problematic bowel functions, leads to rectal prolapse. In that case, your doctor will also recommend partial bowel resection at the time of rectopexy.

Partial bowel resection involves the removal of problematic parts of the colon. After the surgery, you will notice improvements in your bowel functions.

Perineal Or Rectal Approach 

Perineal surgery or rectal approach can be performed under general or epidural anesthesia. The rectal approach can be beneficial for people who cannot have abdominal surgery, have a minor rectal prolapse, or have rectal incarceration.

Rectal approach or perineal surgeries are of two types.

Altemeier Procedure 

The surgeon will pull out your rectum through the anus and remove it. The colon’s lower part of the sigmoid colon is also removed during the course if it has any association with the prolapse.

After removing the sigmoid colon, the new end part of the colon functions as your new rectum.

Nevertheless, once the surgery is done, the doctor stitches the two ends of your large intestine together. In other words, your anus and the remaining part of the colon get stitched together.

This is not as invasive as abdominal surgery, and that is why you will heal faster. But it is less effective if you consider the long-term benefits. Rectal prolapse may come back after this surgery. The relapse happens because your newly formed rectum is less strong or functional than your previous rectum.

Doctors often combine the altimeter process with levatoroplasty. In this way, the weakened pelvic muscles are stitched to ensure tightening.

Delorme Procedure 

It is a minor surgical procedure and is only done when the prolapse is very small, or you only have a mucosal prolapse.

The doctor only removes your rectum’s mucosal lining in this method. The muscle wall of the rectum is then folded and stitched. In this way, your rectum becomes stronger.

Is Rectal Prolapse Treatment Without Surgery Possible? 

Is Rectal Prolapse Treatment Without Surgery Possible?  

Surgery is the most effective method for the treatment of rectal prolapse. However, biofeedback is a popular way to treat rectal prolapse non-surgically. It may not eliminate the need for surgeries but can promote better results when offered before or after surgeries.

Biofeedback is a physical therapy that improves problems in the pelvic floor muscles.

Trained therapists help you to learn exercises that improve the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. In this way, people who suffer from inconvenient bowel movements and feel the stool is about to go out can squeeze their muscles.

The Biofeedback method is also helpful to prevent rectal prolapse from relapsing.

Can I Shrink Rectal Prolapse? 

You can only shrink the rectum in rectal prolapse if the swollen mucosa has fluid buildup. Before putting the rectum inside, apply a few sugar granules and leave it for a few minutes.

Sugar will shrink the rectum by absorbing extra water in the rectum.

How Can I Manage Rectal Prolapse Better? 

You can manage your rectal prolapse better with certain changes in your lifestyle. Pelvic floor exercises are great as they strengthen muscles. Kegel exercise is the most ideal in this regard.

Further, a change in your diet can improve your anal health and help manage rectal prolapse. Eating fiber-rich food and drinking a lot of water is the key to alleviating discomfort. However, consultation with a certified dietician is mandatory to have an ideal diet chart for you.

You can take stool softeners recommended by your physician to keep bowel movements soft. Avoid taking random stool softeners, as many of them can be habit-forming.

Regular exercises of the pelvic muscles are also helpful in managing rectal prolapse.

Can Rectal Prolapse Be Treated Without Surgeries In Children? 

Medications and stool softeners mostly work effectively to treat children with rectal prolapse.

Children with rectal prolapse are usually diagnosed and treated for cystic fibrosis, chronic diarrhea, or parasite infections. Proper treatment of these diseases reduces stress on pelvic floor muscles. So, those muscles get a scope for rejuvenation during the growing up years of a child.

Still, if a child needs rectal prolapse surgery, doctors work on following the most non-invasive technique for the same.

Hemorrhoids Vs Rectal Prolapse: Knowing The Difference 

Hemorrhoids Vs Rectal Prolapse: Knowing The Difference  

Hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse may appear similar in their symptoms. But these are different conditions. Let’s compare.

ComparisonRectal ProlapseHemorrhoids
SymptomsIn rectal prolapse, the mucous lining in the rectum slips and comes out of the anus. You will experience difficulty in stool passing or fecal incontinence with this condition.In hemorrhoids, the blood vessels in the anus or rectum get swollen. You may experience pain, itching, and bleeding. The hemorrhoids can slip out of the anus.
CauseRectal prolapse happens when miscellaneous reasons weaken the pelvic muscles, and the rectum slips into or comes out of the anus. It can happen during or after pregnancy and during constipation and diarrhea.Hemorrhoids can happen during and after pregnancy and on the onset of diarrhea or constipation. Excessive straining causes hemorrhoids.
HealingRectal prolapse does not heal naturally and needs surgical treatments.Hemorrhoids go in a week or so naturally.

The Takeaway 

Rectal prolapse does not occur all of a sudden and rather is caused by the deterioration of your pelvic floor muscles gradually.

One may not find rectal prolapse very inconvenient in the beginning, but conditions and complications can worsen over time. And the problem is even more prominent in people who already have issues with bowel movements.

Surgeries are the best methods for the treatment of rectal prolapse. However, biofeedback therapies, a fiber-rich diet, pelvic floor exercises, and stool softeners can help manage the condition better and stop rectal prolapse from returning after surgery.

So, be attentive to your bowel health, exercise to strengthen your pelvic muscles, and eat right. Take care!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is Rectal Prolapse In Dogs Serious? 

If you want to know about “rectal prolapse dog,” you must understand it’s a severe condition. If a dog does not receive proper treatment on time, the dog will not be able to pass stools.

This can lead to severe health conditions and even death.

This can lead to severe health conditions and even death.

No, rectal prolapse will not heal naturally. The weakening of muscles causes the slip of the rectum into the anus. Thus, rectal prolapse happens.

If a child suffers from rectal prolapse, the right treatments for diarrhea, parasite infection, or constipation can help to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Thus, rejuvenation of those muscles becomes possible when a child grows.

However, surgery is the most effective treatment for rectal prolapse in adults. However, some exercises may help in managing the condition better.

Can Rectal Prolapse Be Malignant? 

 Yes, rectal prolapse can be malignant, but that is rare. When one has a malignant rectal prolapse, the surgical treatment method is chosen based on how the tumor impacts the rectal prolapse.

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