Rectal Prolapse

A rectal prolapse is where the last part of the rectum or bowel becomes stretched and protrudes (bulging) from the bottom (anus).

This could be caused by a weakness of the muscular pelvic floor and ligaments that support your rectum. Sometimes this may only occur when your bowel is opened and goes back itself.

Among adults, rectal prolapse is more common in those older than age 50 and more common in women than in men. About 80 to 90 percent of adults with rectal prolapse are women*.

There are three types of prolapse:

  • Full thickness prolapse: The entire rectum sticks out of your anus.
  • Mucosal prolapse: Part of the rectal lining pokes out of your anus.
  • Internal prolapse: The rectum has started to drop but is not yet sticking out of your anus.

*(Ref is: Hatch Q, Steele SR. Rectal prolapse and intussusception. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2013;42:837–861)


It is difficult to know what the definite cause may be. However, the following can contribute to the condition:

  • age
  • chronic constipation
  • straining
  • pregnancy / child birth
  • poor bowel control
  • weakness of the pelvic floor

Symptoms can include:

  • a reddish-coloured mass that sticks out of the anus
  • constipation or diarrhoea or both
  • feeling that the rectum is not empty after a bowel movement
  • passing blood and mucus from the rectum
  • faecal incontinence
  • anal pain

If you experience symptoms of a rectal prolapse you should seek medical help from a doctor.

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