What is rectal prolapse?
When your large intestine slips out of your anus, causing you to lose control of your bowels and leak from the rectum, you have a rectal prolapse.
Rectal prolapse in men is a rare occurrence, but it increases as you age and has a significant impact on the quality of your life. It’s uncomfortable, yet it’s not considered a medical emergency.
At its early stages, you might experience a rectal prolapse during a bowel movement. As the condition progresses, your rectum might fall out while standing or walking. When the prolapse stays outside of your body, you’ll need an anal plug to hold it in and elect surgery for permanent relief.
What’s the difference between a rectal prolapse and hemorrhoid?
Nearly everyone has hemorrhoids. It becomes a problem when the veins in your rectum, near the anal opening, become swollen and inflamed. Its severity depends on how far the hemorrhoid extends out of your anus and your tolerance for the discomfort or pain produced by the extension.
You might confuse a hemorrhoid with a partial prolapse, but a partial prolapse will not go away on its own as an inflamed vein could. Your physician can diagnose either condition and further diagnose your rectal prolapse into three types:
- Internal prolapse – the prolapse does not stick outside your anus; instead, the walls of your intestines fall and slide over each other.
- Partial prolapse (mucosal prolapse) – only the lining from your intestine sticks out of your anus.
- Complete prolapse – the entire rectal wall of your intestine sticks out from your anus.
What are the symptoms of rectal prolapse?
Look for fecal incontinence, or stool leakage, and a wet anus, or leakage made up of mucus or blood. A few other symptoms you could have with rectal prolapse include:
- A sensation of heavy or full bowels.
- The urgency to relieve bowels.
- A feeling of incomplete bowel movement.
- Passing small stool.
- Anal pain.
- Anal itching.
- Bright red tissue sticking out of your anus.
How prevalent is rectal prolapse in men?
Rectal prolapse is a rare occurrence. Out of 100,000 people, 2-3 will be diagnosed with rectal prolapse. And only 10-20% of those people will be men. Ultimately, we don’t know what causes rectal prolapse in men. Still, you are more likely to develop a rectal prolapse if you:
- Strain during bowel movements.
- Have a bowel infection.
- Have excessive weakness of your pelvic floor muscles.
- Experience chronic constipation or diarrhea.
- Are an adult older than 50 years old.
Will rectal prolapse heal itself?
How you fix your rectal prolapse will depend on the severity of your prolapse. You could start healing by changing your diet and toileting behavior or seek surgery. Surgical repair is performed through your abdomen or anus. Essentially your surgeon will tie your rectum up so it won’t slide down. Or, in some cases, a section of your large intestine will be removed.
Surgery is typically for complete or partial prolapse unless your rectal prolapse can reduce quickly on its own and doesn’t happen spontaneously. You could try stool softeners and suppositories and see if your rectal prolapse can heal on its own.
Can rectal prolapse be fixed with exercise?
Pelvic floor weakness contributes to the development of rectal prolapse. Your pelvic floor physical therapist can assess the strength and function of your pelvic floor muscles and help you design a strengthening program to help prevent or reduce your rectal prolapse. Exercises and behavior training include:
- Pelvic floor muscle training.
- Education on lifestyle changes.
- Changing toileting habits.
- Body mechanics training to avoid increased rectal pressure.
- Adding a regular exercise program for pelvic floor conditioning.