Things to know
- Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the last section of your large intestine moves into the anus. It is not a medical emergency.
- Rectal prolapse symptoms include a reddish mass protruding out of the anus, feeling of a bulge in the anus, lost control over bowel movements and fecal incontinence.
- Rectal prolapse can cause troubling symptoms over time and require surgical intervention for correction.
About rectal prolapse
A prolapse happens when any part of your body slips out from its original position. Rectal prolapse is a condition in which your rectum (the last part of your large intestine) moves down to your anus (the muscular opening of your digestive tract).
Rectal prolapse is not considered a medical emergency. However, it may require clinical intervention at the earliest. There are three types of rectal prolapse:
- External prolapse
- Mucosal prolapse
- Internal prolapse
Rectal prolapse symptoms
The primary sign of rectal prolapse is the presence of a red-coloured mass coming out of the anus. It appears usually at the time of straining during bowel movements. In some cases, this mass moves back or remains visible.
Common rectal prolapse symptoms include:
- Inability to control bowel movements
- Feeling a bulge outside your anus
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Leaking of blood or mucus from the rectum (fecal incontinence)
- A feeling that the rectum is not fully empty after a bowel movement
Rectal prolapse causes
Rectal prolapse causes are not yet exactly known. However, it is more commonly seen in new mothers as an effect of childbirth.
The following factors increase your chances of rectal prolapse:
- Advanced age (over 50 years)
- Gender (more common in women than men)
- History of chronic diarrhoea or chronic constipation
- History of straining during bowel movement
- Injury to the lower back, anal or hip area
- Neurological problems
How is rectal prolapse different from haemorrhoids?
Rectal prolapse occurs when your rectum slips and moves down to the anal area while haemorrhoids or piles is a condition that causes swollen blood vessels in and around the anus.
The signs and symptoms of internal rectal prolapse overlap with haemorrhoids making it difficult to properly diagnose the condition.
Rectal prolapse diagnosis
Rectal prolapse diagnosis is done with the help of the following tests and procedures:
- Digital rectal exam
- Anal manometry
- Anal ultrasound
Rectal prolapse treatment
Rectal prolapse treatment usually involves surgical repair of the prolapse. There are two types of surgeries that are done to treat rectal prolapse – abdominal and perineal.
Along with surgical intervention, your healthcare provider will treat the underlying cause of the condition. He/she will prescribe certain medications for chronic constipation or diarrhoea.
Rectal prolapse prevention
The foremost way to prevent rectal prolapse is to avoid straining during bowel movements. You can do the same through the following measures:
- Increase your fibre intake
- Stay hydrated
- Do regular exercise
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Avoid heavy lifting to avoid pressure on your bowel muscles
Rectal prolapse complications
If not treated timely and in a proper manner, rectal prolapse can become aggressive and cause various complications including severe rectal bleeding, strangulation or reduced blood supply to the rectum, damage to the rectum tissues.
In case of minor rectal prolapse, your doctor may provide stool softeners to help deal with the symptoms.
The early signs of rectal prolapse include a feeling of a bulge in the anus, a reddish mass coming out of the anus, inability to control bowel movements, constipation or diarrhoea and a feeling that the rectum is not fully empty after a bowel movement.
In rectal prolapse, your entire rectum slips into the anus causing a bulge while in haemorrhoids you may feel a bulge due to the swelling in the blood vessels in and around the anus.
Untreated rectal prolapse can cause various complications including severe rectal bleeding and strangulation.