Rectal prolapse is a condition in which your rectum (temporary storage space for digestive wastes) or part of its lining protrudes through the anal opening. The exact cause of this is unknown; however, risk factors may include chronic constipation, weakened pelvic floor and anal sphincter muscles, genetic susceptibility, etc. The condition is much more common among children under the age of three years, women and the elderly.
Symptoms of rectal prolapse include pain and discomfort within the lower abdomen, leakage of mucus and blood, difficulty passing stools, difficulty controlling bowel movements and the feeling of not being able to empty your bowels completely. Your doctor diagnoses rectal prolapse by performing a rectal examination, where a gloved finger is inserted into the anus to detect abnormalities. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy (thin lighted tube inserted into the rectum and bowel) and anorectal manometry (measurement of the anorectal muscle activity) may also be ordered.
Treatment of rectal prolapse depends on various factors such as your age, the severity of the condition and presence of pelvic abnormalities. Your doctor will advise a healthy high-fibre diet, regular exercise and lifestyle changes. In children, treatment involves curing the underlying condition. Surgery is usually recommended for severe cases of prolapse.