- Illustration shows normal anatomy and posterior vaginal prolapse (rectocele)
- Posterior vaginal prolapse (rectocele) Open popup dialog
- Posterior vaginal prolapse occurs when the thin wall of tissue separating the rectum from the vagina weakens and the vaginal wall swells. The posterior vaginal prolapse is also known as a rectocele (REK-Toe-Seel).
Childbirth and other processes that put pressure on the pelvic tissue can lead to posterior vaginal prolapse. A minor incident may not cause any signs or symptoms.
If posterior vaginal prolapse is significant, it can result in noticeable bulging of tissue through the vaginal opening. This bulge can be uncomfortable but is rarely painful.
A small posterior vaginal prolapse (rectocele) may not cause any signs or symptoms.
Otherwise, you can find the following:
- A soft bulge of tissue in your vagina that may protrude through the vaginal opening
- Difficulty having a bowel movement
- Sensation of rectal pressure or fullness
- A feeling that the rectum has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
Posterior vaginal prolapse results from the pressure placed on the pelvic floor.
Causes of increased pelvic floor pressure are:
- Chronic constipation or exposure to stool
- Chronic cough or bronchitis
- Repeated lifting of heavy loads
- Be overweight or obese
Factors that can increase your risk of posterior vaginal prolapse include:
Genetically. Some women are born with weaker pelvic connective tissue, which of course increases the chance that they will develop posterior vaginal prolapse.
Delivery. If you have given birth to multiple children vaginally, you are at greater risk of developing posterior vaginal prolapse. If you had tears in the tissue between the vaginal opening and anus during childbirth (perineal tears) or cuts that widen the opening of the vagina (episiotomies), you may also be at greater risk.
Aging. As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, elasticity, and nerve function, which causes muscles to stretch or weaken.
To reduce the risk of posterior vaginal prolapse worsening, try the following:
- Do Kegel exercises regularly. These exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which is especially important after having a baby.
- Treat and prevent constipation. Drink plenty of fluids and eat high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and lifting them properly. Use your legs rather than your waist or back when lifting.
- Control the cough. Get treatment for chronic cough or bronchitis and do not smoke.