A rectocele occurs when part of the wall of the rectum bulges into the vagina. Also known as a posterior prolapse, this condition may be a result of multiple or difficult childbirths, chronic cough, chronic constipation or weakened vaginal muscles. A rectocele is more common in women who have already been through menopause. Obesity and smoking also increase a woman's risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms of a Rectocele
In some cases, when rectoceles are small, they may cause no symptoms. In other cases, a rectocele may cause a small bulge of tissue in the vagina that may protrude through the vaginal opening. Additional symptoms of a rectocele may include:
- Difficulty having a bowel movement
- Pain or pressure in the vagina or rectum
- Painful intercourse
Women who have a rectocele may also experience other posterior prolapse conditions such as a cystocele or uterine prolapse.
Diagnosis of a Rectocele
A rectocele is diagnosed through a pelvic examination of the vagina and rectum. Symptoms are reviewed and an MRI scan or X-ray may be performed to determine the size of the tissue bulge and if it has caused any internal blockages.
Treatment of a Rectocele
Treatment for a rectocele depends on the size and severity of the condition. In some cases, especially when no symptoms have occurred, the condition will only be monitored. Kegel exercises may be recommended to strengthen pelvic muscles. Other cases may require a pessary to provide support the vagina and the bulging tissue. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the rectocele and a procedure known as a colporrhaphy is commonly performed. This surgical procedure is used to correct defects in the vaginal wall or rectum.