Rectal Prolapse



Rectal prolapse is caused by weak muscles and ligaments. These structures hold the rectum in place.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in children who are 1 to 3 years of age. Rectal prolapse is also more common in older adults.

Things that may raise the risk in children are:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Past anal surgery
  • Malnutrition
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Infections

Things that may raise the risk in adults are:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Pregnancy and the stress of childbirth
  • Hemorrhoids



A person with rectal prolapse may have:

  • Problems controlling stool (poop)
  • Pain when passing stool
  • Loss of urge to pass stool
  • Feeling like not all the stool has passed
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding or mucous from the anus
  • Anal pain or itching
  • Tissue that sticks out of the anus


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the anus and rectum.

Images may be taken. This can be done with:

  • Defecography—a series of x-rays of the rectum and anus taken during a bowel movement
  • Colonoscopy—this uses a flexible tube with a tiny camera to look at the rectum and colon

An anorectal manometry may also be done. This can measure how well the anal muscles and rectal nerves are working.



The goal of treatment is to put the tissue back into place. Rectal prolapse in children tends to go away on its own. In adults, gentle pressure to the rectum can sometimes push it back into place.

The doctor may advise:


Certain medicines may help ease pain and straining when passing stool. Stool softeners and bulk agents.


Some people may need surgery. Options are:

  • Laparoscopic rectopexy—A laparoscope (a tiny camera) is placed through a small incision in the belly. The rectum is secured in place with stitches.
  • Perineal proctectomy—An incision will be made in the rectum. Tissue that is sticking out of the anus is removed.


To lower the risk of this problem:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat a healthful diet that is high in fiber.
  • Do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
  • Do not strain when passing stool.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.