Rectocele (Posterior Prolapse)
Posterior prolapse happens when your rectum begins poking through the wall that separates it from your vagina. It can be a painful condition, but sometimes, you don’t know you have rectocele until your Brooklyn gynecologist discovers it during a routine exam. At one of the Century Medical and Dental Center offices, you can find effective treatments from physical therapy to surgery. Call today for an appointment.
Pelvic prolapse refers to a condition in which any of your pelvic organs push through weakened pelvic floor muscles. Rectocele — also called posterior prolapse — involves the specific condition when the barrier of tissue between your vagina and rectum thins or weakens to the point that the rectum bulges into or through the vaginal wall. Mild cases of posterior prolapse usually cause little or no symptoms, but if the prolapse progresses, the rectum descends further, and symptoms become stressful, embarrassing and painful.
While tissues separating the vagina and rectum tend to weaken as you age, other conditions can strain them. Childbirth, injury, chronic constipation and even habitual, violent coughing contribute to weakening muscles. Nonsurgical treatment options exist, although severe prolapse conditions may require a surgical intervention.
Symptoms of Posterior Prolapse
Minor posterior prolapses usually cause little or no discomfort or symptoms. If it descends further, you may notice:
- A sense of fullness or rectal pressure
- A feeling as if something is pushing out of your vagina
- Constipation or difficulty having regular bowel movements
- A feeling that you aren’t able to fully empty your bowels
- A bulge inside your vagina
- Rectal pain and pressure
- Sexual discomfort or concerns regarding your vaginal tissue, appearance and function
- Problems controlling gas or the passage of stool
- Low back pain, especially after lengthy time on your feet
Rectocele often accompanies other pelvic prolapse conditions involving the bladder, uterus, or the top of the vagina. Although childbirth often contributes to posterior and pelvic prolapse conditions, women who haven’t had children may experience them as well.
Causes and Risk Factors of Posterior Prolapse
Women carrying pregnancies to term, complete with vaginal childbirth, especially of babies nine pounds or heavier, often develop prolapse conditions later in life. Other causes include:
- Repeatedly lifting heavy items
- Fighting weight concerns and obesity
- Chronic constipation
- Fits of violent coughing from chronic bronchitis or smoking
- Past pelvic surgery, such as a hysterectomy
- A family history of prolapse conditions
- Being past menopause
Individuals who have dealt with sexual abuse as a child may experience more trouble with pelvic prolapse conditions. Reduced estrogen weakens the pelvic lining and muscles. By the age of 50, about half of all women have some signs of pelvic prolapse. Some researchers suggest that women who’ve had chronic hemorrhoid issues also seem more inclined to posterior prolapse.
Many non-invasive treatment options exist to manage your prolapse symptoms. After a pelvic exam and discussion of your medical history and current symptoms, your Brooklyn doctor may recommend:
- Careful observation, especially if you experience few or no symptoms
- Physical therapy specialist who will educate you on Kegel exercises to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles
- The use of a removable, custom-fitted device called a pessary, which is a plastic or rubber ring inserted into your vagina to help support your pelvic floor muscles and pelvic organs
- Surgical options if your symptoms progress
If you need surgery, your gynecologist accesses your abdomen through your vagina. After removing the excess or stretched tissue, your doctor supports your pelvic organs with either sutures or a mesh patch that eventually integrates into the connective tissue or fascia between the rectum and the vagina. Recovery time for rectal surgery takes two to six weeks. Although less invasive than open abdominal surgery, your body still needs adequate time to heal and rest.
Aftercare and Prevention of Future Rectocele Concerns
After recovery from rectocele surgery or as preventive steps against further posterior prolapse incidents, your Brooklyn gynecologist recommends a series of habit changes to support your pelvic floor muscles and keep you pain-free and healthy. These lifestyle recommendations include:
- Continuing your physical therapy exercises, including the Kegel exercises, to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and supportive
- Using proper lifting techniques, involving your legs and not your back, as well as reducing the load for each lift
- Watching your weight to keep extra pounds from adding more pressure on your supportive pelvic tissue
- Keeping constipation issues at bay through a diet of high-fiber foods and plenty of fluids
- Taking medications to prevent straining
- Stopping cigarette smoking
- Receiving treatment for chronic lung issues that cause coughing
Posterior prolapse conditions cause discomfort, embarrassment and sometimes pain. Finding a solution to help control and treat your rectocele symptoms and concerns improves your quality of life, allowing you to do more and do it more easily. Treat your condition in a modern, safe environment. Contact doctor in Brooklyn at Century Medical and Dental Center for the best rectocele treatment.