What is Rectal Prolapse?
Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum, the final portion of the large intestine, protrudes through the anus and becomes visible outside the body. This can be a painful and uncomfortable condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
There are several types of rectal prolapse, including complete prolapse, in which the entire rectum protrudes from the anus, and partial prolapse, in which only a portion of the rectum protrudes. Rectal prolapse can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in older adults and in women, especially after childbirth.
The exact cause of rectal prolapse is not well understood, but several factors are thought to contribute to its development, including:
- Weakened muscles and tissues in the pelvic area: Over time, the muscles and tissues that support the rectum can weaken, leading to rectal prolapse.
- Chronic constipation: Chronic straining during bowel movements can weaken the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area and increase the risk of rectal prolapse.
- Childbirth: Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area, increasing the risk of rectal prolapse.
- Aging: The natural aging process can cause muscles and tissues to weaken, making rectal prolapse more likely.
- Chronic conditions: Certain chronic conditions, such as chronic coughing, obesity, and lung disease, can increase the risk of rectal prolapse.
The symptoms of rectal prolapse can include rectal bleeding, discomfort or pain in the rectal area, a feeling of fullness in the rectum, and difficulty having bowel movements. In severe cases, the rectum may prolapse completely outside the body, requiring manual reduction.
Diagnosis of rectal prolapse typically involves a physical examination, during which the doctor will examine the rectum and anus to determine the extent of the prolapse. Additional tests, such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, may be needed to rule out other causes of rectal bleeding or discomfort.
Treatment for rectal prolapse depends on the severity of the condition and may include lifestyle changes, such as increasing fiber and fluid intake, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the weakened muscles and tissues and prevent further prolapse.
It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience rectal bleeding or discomfort, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty having bowel movements or a feeling of fullness in the rectum. Early treatment can help prevent the progression of rectal prolapse and improve quality of life.