Rectocele/Posterior Prolapse

What is Rectocele/Posterior Prolapse?

Occurring along the wall separating the rectum and vagina, a posterior prolapse is a herniation, or bulge, that may weaken tissues. Posterior Prolapse, also referred to as Rectoceles, often produces little or no symptoms. For more significant rectoceles, adjacent pelvic organs (small intestine, bladder) may protrude into the vagina and cause discomfort.

What are the Symptoms of Rectocele/Posterior Prolapse?

While rare, rectoceles can be congenital (present at birth). The herniation may also occur due to trauma such as what would be experienced with childbirth or result from chronic coughing or constipation. A prior pelvic injury may also weaken tissue here and increase the susceptibility to herniation. Possible indications of a rectocele may be felt while in the process of making a bowel movement.

Symptoms may also include:

  • Difficulty with bowel movements
  • Sensations of pressure in the rectal area
  • Feeling like a bowel movement hasn’t been completed
  • Sensation of a loss of tone in the vaginal area
  • Pelvic or lower back pain during intercourse

How is Rectocele/Posterior Prolapse Treated?

Usually diagnosed during a pelvic or vaginal exam, rectoceles tend to come and go without detection or intervention. It’s only when related issues such as constipation or increased difficulty with bowel movements are experienced that the condition becomes problematic and requires attention. Treatment often involves self-care to allow for natural healing.

Posterior Prolapse Surgery

Typically elective, surgery involves repair of the damaged tissue. Women who have had prior pelvic surgery have lower success rates with corrective surgery. It’s generally recommended to delay surgery if already pregnant or planning to have children.

Some women who have hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) may experience rectoceles. Discomfort can sometimes be minimized by quitting smoking, managing constipation with dietary changes, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening pelvic muscles with exercise, and avoiding activities or movements that place added stress on the pelvis.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 22, 2017