Hospital Main Number

Is Rectal Prolapse Life-Threatening?

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum prolapses from its usual position inside the lower rectum and protrudes through the anus. The rectum can also prolapse through a small tear in the sphincter that regulates bowel movements. Prolapse may or may not be accompanied by bleeding.

While this condition can be extremely painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, many people wonder whether rectal prolapse is life-threatening. The short answer is that rectal prolapse is not life-threatening but it can be debilitating and cause significant distress. What is rectal prolapse and what are the risks and dangers associated with the condition?

Whom Does It Affect?

The condition is rare affecting only 2 in every 100,000 people. Both men and women over 50 are vulnerable, but it’s more common in women since 85% of the cases are caused by childbirth.

What Causes Rectal Prolapse?

Rectal prolapse is caused by a variety of factors, including childbirth, obesity, pelvic floor dysfunction (such as a weak or missing sphincter), and age. The most common cause of rectal prolapse is childbirth, accounting for 85% of cases. In some cases, genetic factors may also be involved.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Prolapse?

The signs and symptoms of rectal prolapse vary depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, there may be minor discomfort and bleeding with a feeling of a lump protruding from the anus. In more serious cases, there may be pain and bleeding with a constant or continuous feeling of pressure in the rectum or anus. Here are some other symptoms of rectal prolapse:

  • Difficulty passing gas
  • Pain when sitting or standing
  • Mucus discharge
  • Difficulty with bowel movement
  • The feeling of fullness after eating or drinking

These symptoms tend to affect the quality of life of individuals with rectal prolapse.

Complications of Rectal Prolapse

Although rectal prolapse isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can lead to a number of complications. One of the most common complications is fecal incontinence, which is the inability to control bowel movements. In some cases, fecal incontinence can be severe and may require surgery. This can also severely affect a person’s mental health and social life.

Moreover, rectal prolapse also results in damage to the anus and rectum that can cause vaginal infections in women, ulcers, and bleeding.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for rectal prolapse, but there are several treatments available that can help improve the condition. For mild cases of rectal prolapse, medications and lifestyle changes (such as increased fiber intake, staying active, and staying hydrated) may be enough.

In more serious cases, rectopexy (surgery) may be necessary. In this procedure, the rectum is stretched and pulled up into the body, attaching it to the pelvis.

Woman feeling her abdomen for rectal prolapse pain.

If you’re looking for a qualified gastroenterologist to help you with rectal prolapse treatment, Houston Physicians’ Hospital is a Specialty Hospital near NASA TX that has award-winning specialists who can accurately diagnose and treat this often painful condition. We also provide upper back pain treatment, noninvasive treatment for essential tremor, treatments for Knee Pain Treatment Houston, and more.

Find a gastroenterologist who’s right for you.