It's unclear what exactly causes this rare condition in which the rectum slips outside of the anus. Find out about symptoms and treatment.
Rectal prolapse occurs when part of the large intestine's lowest section (rectum) slips outside the muscular opening at the end of the digestive tract (anus). While rectal prolapse may cause discomfort, it's rarely a medical emergency.
Rectal prolapse can sometimes be treated with stool softeners, suppositories and other medications. But surgery is usually needed to treat rectal prolapse.
If you have rectal prolapse, you may notice a reddish mass that comes out of the anus, often while straining during a bowel movement. The mass may slip back inside the anus, or it may remain visible.
Other symptoms may include:
The cause for rectal prolapse is unclear. Though it's a common assumption that rectal prolapse is associated with childbirth, about one-third of women with the condition have never had children.
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing rectal prolapse, including:
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish rectal prolapse from hemorrhoids. To help diagnose rectal prolapse and rule out other associated conditions, your doctor may recommend:
Treatment for rectal prolapse usually involves surgery. Other treatments include various therapies for constipation, including stool softeners, suppositories and other medications. There are a few different surgical methods for treating rectal prolapse. Your doctor will choose the best approach for you after considering your age, physical condition and bowel function.