What is a rectocele?

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Rectocele is where the part of the rectum falls into the vagina, says Victor Grigoriev, MD, a urologist at MountainView Hospital. In this video, he discusses how women are forced to handle the challenges of this condition.
In women, the rectum may bulge into the vagina because of weakening of the vaginal wall and other supportive tissue causing a rectocele. This can be caused by vaginal childbirth. Difficulties passing stool may result. Some women find it helps to place one or more fingers inside the vagina to help support the bulging tissue and facilitate a bowel movement.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
A rectocele is a hernia in the wall that separates the rectum from the vagina.

A hernia is a bulge that forms when the support tissue within the wall is damaged or weakened. Other areas of support in the pelvis can also be damaged. For example, a hernia in the front wall of the vagina that separates it from the bladder is called a cystocele. The general name for these conditions is pelvic floor prolapse.

Many factors may cause damage to the pelvic floor. The most important is injury from giving birth. Aging, smoking, genetic factors, and chronic stress on the pelvic floor (from lifting and straining) may contribute to the development of prolapse.

Prolapse can be mild, causing no symptoms. It can also be quite uncomfortable when the condition becomes more pronounced.

Women with larger rectoceles will often feel pressure and a sense of "something falling down". They may have difficulty moving their bowels and sometimes need to brace the area near the rectum to evacuate their stools. Intercourse may be uncomfortable as the bulging tissue creates a partial blockage within the vagina.

Treatment is not required for prolapse that causes little or no symptoms. If prolapse is bothersome, several treatments are available.
Rectocele is a condition in which the tissue that supports the floor of the vagina becomes so thin that the rectum actually bulges into the vagina, much like a hammock that has become loose over time. It's the equivalent of a dropped bladder, except it involves the back of the vagina, not the front. Instead of stool going down a straight tunnel, it gets trapped in a "turn in the road" -- hence the necessity to push down. "Splinting" is the term we use to describe the need to put manual pressure on the vagina or perineum in order for the stool to come out. Mild rectoceles require no treatment, but if it is bothersome, a minor surgical procedure can put things back where they belong.
Janet E. Tomezsko, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
A rectocele is a loss of the vaginal support over the rectum. The floor of the vagina may begin to bulge up and a rectocele forms.

Patients may have no symptoms, or may feel a bulge or pressure in the vaginal area. Prolapse is not usually painful.

A rectocele may be associated with difficulty emptying the rectum during a bowel movement. 

A rectocele should be treated when bothersome by a pessary (a device like a diaphragm that goes in the vagina to support the bulge) or a corrective surgery.
Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

A rectocele is a hernia or defect in the connective tissue between the rectum and the vagina. This causes a bulging of the rectum into the vagina and makes it very difficult for some women to have bowel movements. Also, patients can have complaints of pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, and difficulty with intercourse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.