A rectocele is a medical condition that is caused when there is a tear in the fibrous tissue between the vagina and the rectum. Some of the tissue from the rectum then protrudes through the tear. This often causes a feeling of pressure or a sensation that the bowels have not been completely emptied following a bowel movement. A soft bulge in the vaginal area, difficulty having a bowel movement, and pain during sexual intercourse are among the symptoms of a rectocele. Common causes of a rectocele include childbirth, constipation, or pelvic surgery such as a hysterectomy. Treatment options may include exercise, dietary changes, or surgery.
If the rectocele is small, there may be no noticeable symptoms. In some cases, the woman may feel a soft bulge in the vaginal area. This bulge may or may not protrude through the vaginal opening. She may also feel pressure on the rectal area. Some women may feel a loss of muscle tone in the vagina, potentially causing embarrassment at the thought of having sexual relations.
Other rectocele symptoms may include difficulty having a bowel movement or a feeling that the intestines have not been completely emptied. Some women may actually need to physically push on the bulge in the vagina in order to have a bowel movement. Bowel movements may become painful, especially if the tear is large. When these rectocele symptoms occur, a visit to the doctor may be in order. It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis and make sure that the symptoms are not related to a more serious medical condition.
Sexual problems often develop due to rectocele symptoms. Not only is a woman suffering from this condition likely to feel embarrassed and have emotional issues associated with the embarrassment or insecurity, but physical sexual rectocele symptoms may exist as well. For instance, sexual intercourse may become painful, especially if the vaginal bulge begins to grow. Some women may also feel like something is about to fall out of the vagina.
In more severe cases, vaginal bleeding may be present, especially when having a bowel movement. There may also be occasional bouts of bowel incontinence in some women. Part of the rectum may actually protrude from the vagina or anus to the point where it can be seen.
Dietary changes can often help to ease many rectocele symptoms. Adding fiber and water intake to the diet can help to prevent constipation and the need to strain when having a bowel movement. Without the added pressure to the rectal area, the problem will often correct itself. Mild to moderate exercise may also help to strengthen the muscles and tissues of the pelvic region. If these measures do not relieve the rectocele symptoms, surgical intervention to repair the damaged tissues may become necessary.