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Rectal prolapse is a medical condition where the rectum (the end part of the large intestine) protrudes outside the anus. It can be a painful and embarrassing condition that can affect your daily life. This patient information sheet aims to provide you with a basic understanding of rectal prolapse, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Rectal prolapse can occur due to a variety of reasons. It can occur due to weakened pelvic muscles that support the rectum and anus, chronic constipation or diarrhea, straining during bowel movements, pregnancy and childbirth, and previous rectal surgery. In some cases, rectal prolapse can also occur due to neurological conditions that affect the pelvic floor muscles, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.

The most common symptom of rectal prolapse is the protrusion of the rectum outside the anus. You may feel a bulge or lump outside your anus, which may need to be manually pushed back inside. Other symptoms include:

  • A feeling of heaviness or discomfort in the rectal area
  • Difficulty passing stools or an incomplete bowel movement
  • Incontinence (inability to control bowel movements)
  • Anal bleeding or discharge

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to diagnose rectal prolapse. They may ask you to bear down or strain during the examination to see if the rectum protrudes outside the anus. Your doctor may also perform a digital rectal exam or a sigmoidoscopy to examine the rectum and colon.

The treatment for rectal prolapse depends on the severity of your condition. In some cases, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber in your diet, drinking more water, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. In other cases, medications such as stool softeners or laxatives may be prescribed to ease constipation or diarrhea.

If your prolapse is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are several surgical options available for rectal prolapse, including:

  • Rectopexy: In this procedure, the rectum is surgically attached to the pelvis to prevent it from prolapsing.
  • Sigmoid resection: In this procedure, the sigmoid colon (the part of the large intestine closest to the rectum) is removed, and the remaining colon is attached to the rectum.
  • Perineal proctectomy: In this procedure, the prolapsed tissue is removed through an incision made in the perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals).

It’s important to discuss all your options with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.


There are several steps you can take to prevent rectal prolapse, including:

  • Eating a high-fiber diet
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding straining during bowel movements
  • Treating constipation or diarrhea promptly

Rectal prolapse is a condition that can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery. If you experience any symptoms of rectal prolapse, it’s important to speak with your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. By following the prevention tips mentioned above, you can reduce your risk of developing rectal prolapse.

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