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Rectocele is a medical condition that affects the rectum and the vagina. It occurs when the rectum protrudes into the back wall of the vagina, causing a bulge or protrusion. This condition can lead to various symptoms, including difficulty passing stool, a feeling of incomplete bowel movements, pelvic pressure or discomfort, and lower back pain. In this article, we will explore rectocele in detail, its causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

Understanding Rectocele

Rectocele is a type of pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, descend into the vaginal canal. In the case of rectocele, the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina. This can happen due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues, which can occur as a result of childbirth, aging, or chronic constipation.

Causes of Rectocele

Rectocele can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Childbirth: The process of giving birth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and tissues, making them more prone to prolapse.
  • Aging: As we age, the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area naturally weaken, increasing the risk of rectocele.
  • Chronic constipation: Straining during bowel movements over a long period of time can put pressure on the pelvic floor, leading to rectocele.

Symptoms of Rectocele

The symptoms of rectocele can vary from person to person, but some common signs include:

  • Difficulty passing stool: The bulge in the vagina can obstruct the rectum, making it difficult to have a bowel movement.
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movements: Even after having a bowel movement, there may be a sensation that the rectum is not completely empty.
  • Bulge or protrusion from the vagina: A visible bulge or protrusion may be felt or seen in the vaginal area.
  • Pelvic pressure or discomfort: There may be a constant feeling of pressure or discomfort in the pelvic region.
  • Lower back pain: The strain on the pelvic floor muscles can cause lower back pain.

Treatment Options for Rectocele

While rectocele cannot be completely cured without medical intervention, there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Some of these options include:

Lifestyle Changes

Simple lifestyle changes can often help alleviate the symptoms of rectocele. These may include:

  • Increasing fiber intake: Consuming a diet rich in fiber can help regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
  • Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can soften the stool and make it easier to pass.
  • Exercising regularly: Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through exercises like Kegels can provide support to the rectum and reduce symptoms.


A pessary is a device that can be inserted into the vagina to provide support to the pelvic organs. It can help alleviate the symptoms of rectocele by reducing the bulge and improving bowel movements. Pessaries come in different shapes and sizes, and it is important to work with a healthcare professional to find the right fit.


In severe cases of rectocele, surgery may be recommended. The surgical procedure aims to repair the weakened tissues and restore the normal position of the rectum. There are different surgical techniques available, and the choice of procedure depends on the individual’s specific condition and preferences.


Rectocele is a common condition that can cause discomfort and affect the quality of life. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. While rectocele cannot be completely cured without medical intervention, lifestyle changes, the use of pessaries, and surgical options can help manage the symptoms effectively. By taking proactive steps and working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals with rectocele can find relief and improve their overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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