Rectal Prolapse: Care Instructions

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A rectal prolapse happens when part or all of the wall of the rectum slides out of place and sticks out of the anus. It may be a partial prolapse, where only part of the lining of the rectum slides out of place. Or it may be a complete prolapse, where the entire wall of the rectum slides out of place.

Many things increase your chance of having a rectal prolapse. These include:

  • Straining during bowel movements.
  • Tissue damage from surgery or childbirth.
  • Weakness of pelvic floor muscles as people get older.

Your doctor may diagnose a rectal prolapse by asking questions about your symptoms and doing a rectal exam. Home treatment often helps the problem, but you may need surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Avoid constipation. Drink plenty of water, and eat fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain fiber. Changes in diet often are enough to improve or reverse a partial prolapse.
  • Try Kegel exercises to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic area. You do Kegel exercises by tightening your muscles as if you were holding back urine or gas.
  • Don't strain during a bowel movement. Use a stool softener if you need to.
  • If it happens again, and if your doctor says it's okay, you can push the prolapse back into place.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new or worse bleeding from the rectum.
  • You have new or worse leaking of stool (fecal incontinence).

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • The prolapse happens again.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.