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Rectocele

WHAT IS A RECTOCELE?

Rectocele refers to a weakening or bulging of the wall between the rectum and the vagina (rectovaginal septum). When this occurs, the vagina will protrude into the rectal area.

At Loma Linda University Health, we have many specialists who are qualified to treat rectocele. When when lifestyle changes alone don’t correct the condition, we offer minimally invasive treatments that allow for a faster, more complete recovery.  

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF RECTOCELE?

Rectocele is a condition that may be noted on a physical exam without the patient having symptoms. When there are symptoms, they can include:

  • Pressure in the pelvic area
  • Constipation
  • Leakage of bowel movements (incontinence)
  • Sexual dysfunction

WHAT CAUSES RECTOCELE?

Rectocele may occur most commonly in:

  • Women who have given birth vaginally
  • Women of an increasing age who are experiencing menopause
  • Women with an increase in weight or obesity
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy
  • Women who have increased abdominal pressure from illness, such as COPD
  • Women who suffer from chronic constipation

HOW IS RECTOCELE DIAGNOSED?

Rectocele is diagnosed during a pelvic exam.

HOW IS RECTOCELE TREATED?

There are several ways to treat rectocele, and many of them are non-surgical. These include:

Diet - Eat more high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains,  at least 25-35 grams of fiber a day. Increased water intake is also needed.

Treat constipation - Do not strain while having a bowel movement. Use a stool softener if needed.

Pelvic floor exercises - Do Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine and bowel movements.

Hormone replacement therapy - This may be prescribed to post-menopausal women.

Vaginal pessary - Using a vaginal pessary, an inserted device designed to support the uterus, vagina, bladder or rectum.

Surgery for Rectocele  

Surgery is needed for a rectocele when nonsurgical treatments don’t work. The most common surgical way to repair a rectocele is to go through the rectum or vagina. The redundant tissue that involves the rectocele is typically removed and the rectal/vaginal area is reinforced. This may require the use of a surgical mesh for strengthening the wall.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF RECTOCELE?

If a rectocele is left untreated, the following complications may occur:

  • Pressure or discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Constipation
  • Leakage of bowel movements (incontinence)
  • Sexual dysfunction

WHO IS AT RISK FOR RECTOCELE?

  • Women who have given birth vaginally
  • Women of an increasing age who are experiencing menopause
  • Women with an increase in weight or obesity
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy
  • Women who have increased abdominal pressure from illness, such as COPD
  • Women who suffer from chronic constipation

NEXT STEPS

Seek medical intervention if you believe you may have a rectocele. Schedule a medical exam. To request an evaluation at Loma Linda University Health, schedule an appointment through MyChart.

  • Stay aware. Women from childbearing age through menopause are in the risk category for rectocele. Stay aware of the symptoms of this condition and seek medical intervention immediately if you begin experiencing them.  
  • Be proactive. If left untreated, rectocele can lead to more serious complications. To request an evaluation at Loma Linda University Health for rectocele symptoms, contact your provider or schedule the appointment through MyChart.