What is Rectocele?
A rectocele is a bulge or herniation that appears on the front of the rectum and goes into the posterior wall of the vagina. In this condition, the rectovaginal septum which is the tissue between the vagina and the rectum becomes thin and weak. This results in rectocele when it is small there are no symptoms. It is also called as posterior vaginal wall prolapse or proctocele. A rectocele is only a type of prolapse and there can be other types like the:
- Anterior vaginal wall prolapse or cystocele
- Uterine prolapse
- Vault prolapse
When the posterior prolapse is small there are no symptoms. Otherwise, rectocele prolapse symptoms are:
- Bowel movement becomes difficult and a feeling that the bowel is not empty. They may have to press their fingers on the vaginal bulge and push the stool out when there is a bowel movement.
- Presence of a bulge of tissue in the vagina.
- The bulge may even be seen outside of the vaginal opening.
- A feeling of fullness or rectal pressure
- Along with rectocele some women also experience prolapse in other organs like the small intestine, bladder, or the uterus.
When the prolapse is small, there is no medical care needed. Rectocele natural treatment or home care is enough. If you feel the above symptoms then it is best to visit a doctor.
Who is at Risk?
There are several risk factors that can contribute to the rectocele signs and symptoms. It includes:
- Childbirth and pregnancy. Women who have multiple childbirths including prolonged labor weakens the pelvic floor muscles and hence at a higher risk.
- Women who strain their bowels or those who suffer from constipation have an increased risk.
- Women who have a chronic cough or often suffer from bronchitis risk having rectocele.
- Women who lift heavy objects repeatedly can develop it.
- Overweight or obese women can get rectocele than those who are of average weight.
- Aging can also lead to the weakening of the pelvic muscles.
- Men who have had a prostatectomy
One of the most common rectocele causes is pregnancy and childbirth. In this condition, the ligaments, fascia, and the muscles that support the vagina get stretched and become weak due to labor and delivery. The chances of rectoceles increases as the number of pregnancies increases.
- The other causes can be weak muscles in the pelvic area which makes such women more prone to rectocele.
- Reduced nerve function and loss of muscle mass and elasticity due to the natural process of aging can also cause rectocele.
- Menopause and drop in estrogen levels lead to loss of elasticity of pelvic muscles and hence can cause rectocele.
How is Rectocele Diagnosed?
Rectocele diagnosis is often done during routine gynecology examinations as most of the women have no rectocele pain symptoms.
- Usually, a gynecologist diagnoses it by doing a physical examination.
- During the physical examination, a pelvic floor strength test is done as part of a pelvic examination. The strength of the pelvic floor muscles is tested along with the muscles and ligaments of the rectum, uterus, vaginal walls, bladder, and urethra. If there are irregularities it can help in diagnosing vaginal prolapse.
- A bladder function test is another rectocele test that is done to determine the ability of the bladder to store and remove urine.
- In rare cases, MRI or an X-ray may be needed to determine the rectocele size.
How is Rectocele Treated?
Rectocele cure provided by the physician depends on the severity of the symptoms. If there are no signs of rectocele and yet the doctor determines its presence then self-care measures are advised. If the condition is severe, then the treatment options are:
- A plastic or rubber ring called the pessary is inserted into the vagina to help with the bulging tissues.
- Surgery may be recommended to remove the stretched tissue that causes rectocele. A meat patch may also be used to strengthen the wall between the vagina and rectum.
Rectocele is usually diagnosed by gynaecologists during routine physical examination. Hence it is essential to visit a qualified professional who is well-versed in conducting proper diagnosis. Consult our experts at Cure.fit to get a detailed physical examination.
How can Rectocele be Prevented?
Most of the vaginal prolapse is not preventable. But the below tips can minimize the risk and increase vaginal health:
- Do kegel exercises so that it helps in pelvic muscle strengthening.
- Drink plenty of fluids and consume food that is rich in fiber so as to prevent constipation.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects or if needed be lifted correctly using your legs instead of the back.
- Maintain normal weight by following a healthy lifestyle
- Treat chronic cough so that it prevents frequent coughs.