Most Rectoceles Symptom-Free, Easily Treated

Health Topics

About 40 percent of women at some time in their lives are diagnosed with a rectocele, a herniation (a bulge) of the front wall of the rectum into the back wall of the vagina.

As we age, this tissue between the rectum and vagina – known as the rectovaginal septum – becomes thin and weak, which can cause a rectocele. 

Aging, multiple vaginal deliveries, and birthing trauma during a vaginal delivery can cause the pelvic floor to weaken and a retrocele to occur. Birthing trauma could include forceps used during delivery, a vacuum delivery, vaginal tearing during delivery, and an episiotomy due to delivery.

Other possible causes include having a history of chronic constipation, excessive straining during bowel movements, and multiple gynecologic or rectal surgeries.

Because rectoceles are usually small and have no symptoms, they are often found accidentally during a routine physical exam. Typically they are diagnosed after an exam of both the vagina and rectum.

Sometimes a special X-ray is used to visualize the rectocele.

A rectocele can be treated both surgically and non-surgically, but should only be treated if you are having symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life. 

To treat a rectocele non-surgically, eat a high-fiber diet of at least 25 grams of fiber each day to keep your bowel movements regular. Making sure you drink six to eight, 10 oz. glasses of water daily also can help with regularity. 

Ask your physician to recommend exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Surgical treatment for rectoceles should be used only as a last resort if you cannot comfortably go about your regular daily routine. Colorectal surgeons, gynecologists, and urogynecologists are all trained to treat the condition and can perform the surgery.

There are multiple options for how the surgery is completed, including through the anus, through the vagina, and through the abdomen. Your physician can recommend which type of surgery would be best to treat your rectocele.

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