Between the vagina and the rectum is a wall of tissues called the fascia. This fibrous tissue, when weakened, can cause the rectum to bulge through the vaginal cavity. This condition is called posterior prolapse, or rectocele.
Women who have given birth or experience weakened pelvic floor muscles may be at a higher risk of developing rectocele. This condition may be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but is very rarely painful for the individual. However, patients have a number of solutions available to them to address posterior prolapse and increase their quality of life.
Patients with rectocele may notice some discomfort in the pelvic region. They may feel pressure or fullness in the rectum, and may have difficulty completely emptying the rectum during a bowel movement. Inability to have a bowel movement may require the individual to press their fingers on the bulge to push stool from the rectum. Many women feel self-conscious during sexual intercourse, and may experience some discomfort during sexual activities. This condition may also happen alongside cystocele (anterior prolapse) or enterocele (apical prolapse).
Typical diagnosis requires a pelvic examination. Questions may be asked by Dr. Gandhi to assess the condition, and imaging tests such as MRIs and x-rays may be used to determine the severity of the problem. Dr. Gandhi will check to see if other underlying conditions or problems may be contributing to the pelvic organ prolapse.
In most mild cases of posterior prolapse, no treatment is necessary. Observing the condition over time while performing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor may be the recommended course of action. Other times, patients may prefer a solution such as pessaries or surgery. Most patients can benefit from controlling coughs, losing weight, avoiding heavy lifting, and performing Kegel exercises to improve the strength of their muscles and ligaments.
Dr. Gandhi of Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology is happy to help patients with pelvic organ prolapse and has openings for new patients to see him for comprehensive pelvic health care. Contact his practice today to schedule a consultation appointment.