Alexandra Howson, PhD
The rectum is the end section of the large intestine. Prolapse happens when part of the rectum stretches and falls through the anus. This can occur when straining during a bowel movement. If you think you have this condition, call your doctor right away.
The rectum is held in place by ligaments and muscles. When these become weak, rectal prolapse occurs.
These factors increase your chance of rectal prolapse. Talk to your doctor if you or your child has any of these risk factors:
If you have any of these, do not assume they are due to rectal prolapse. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Prolapse in children tends to go away on its own. In adults, gentle pressure to the rectum can sometimes push the rectum back into place. The sooner the condition is treated, the better the outcome. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.
Certain medicine may help to reduce pain and straining during bowel movements. Your doctor may recommend stool softeners and bulk agents, such as:
In some cases, surgery may be needed. Surgeries used to treat rectal prolapse include:
To help reduce your chance of rectal prolapse, take the following steps:
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Canadian Society of Intestinal Research
Constipation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 30, 2010. Accessed February 1, 2010.
Professional Guide to Diseases. 9th ed. Ambler, PA: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins; 2008:294-295.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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