A rectocele is a form of pelvic organ prolapse that occurs when the tissues and muscles that hold the end of the large intestine (rectum) in place are stretched or weakened. This results in the rectum moving from its natural position to press against and sometimes through the back wall of the vagina.

A rectocele usually develops when a woman's pelvic muscles become weak as a result of having children, aging, or having previous surgery. In rare cases, a rectocele may be present at birth (congenital).

A rectocele may become large or more obvious with straining or bearing down (for example, during a bowel movement). A rectocele may cause pain during sexual intercourse or difficulty when passing stool.

Many cases of rectocele do not cause symptoms and do not require treatment. If treatment is needed, a rectocele usually can be surgically corrected.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology