What is a rectocele?
A rectocele is a bulging of the front wall of the rectum into the back of the vagina. The bulge, or herniation, occurs as a result of thinning and weakening of the band of tissue that separates the vagina from the rectum. This thinning has a number of causes, including:
- Advanced age.
- Multiple vaginal childbirths or trauma during childbirth (for example, the use of forceps or the tearing of tissue during delivery).
- Repeated surgeries in the area of the pelvic floor or rectum.
- Chronic straining during bowel movements due to long-term constipation.
Normal anatomy of rectum
Rectum with rectocele
What are symptoms of a rectocele?
Many women with a rectocele have no symptoms, and the condition is incidentally noted on physical examination. In general, if a rectocele is not causing symptoms or discomfort, it can be left alone.
When symptoms are present, they include:
- Difficulty having bowel movements.
- A sense of bulging or fullness in the vagina.
- Problems with sexual intercourse.
- Manually reducing the bulge in the vagina to have a bowel movement.
A rectocele should be treated only if symptoms interfere with a woman’s quality of life.