What is a Rectocele?

Normal anatomy and a rectocele

A rectocele is a type of pelvic organ prolapse. It happens when the supporting ligaments and muscles weaken in the pelvic floor. Other names for a rectocele are a posterior vaginal wall prolapse or proctocele.

Childbirth, age, and a range of other factors can cause the normally tough, fibrous, sheet-like divider between the rectum and vagina to weaken.

A bulge may protrude as a hernia into the back of the vagina during a time of straining, such as a bowel movement.

A rectocele can lead to constipation and discomfort, but if it is small, there may be no symptoms.

Most people can treat a rectocele at home, but a severe case may need surgery.

The following tips can help prevent a rectocele from developing, and — if a rectocele is already present — stop symptoms from getting worse.

  • Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegel exercises, can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids and eating high-fiber foods can reduce constipation.
  • Avoiding any type of heavy lifting can also prevent a worsening of symptoms.
  • Getting treatment for prolonged coughing can reduce strain on the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Losing weight may be advisable if a person has obesity or excess weight.
  • Straining for a long time when defecating can make the problem worse. Avoiding constipation can help prevent this.

The doctor may prescribe:

stool softeners to ease constipation
hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for use after menopause.
a vaginal pessary — a plastic or rubber round disk inserted into the vagina — to support the protruding tissues

there are interventions for different kinds of pelvic organ prolapse include:

  • sacral colpopexy
  • sacrospinous colpopexy
  • uterosacral colpopexy

The surgeon can remove the stretched or damaged tissue. Sometimes they may use a mesh inlay to reinforce the wall between the vagina and the rectum.

The technique can vary from open surgery to a minimally invasive procedure. In some cases, a surgeon will repair the damaged tissue, usually through an incision in the vagina.

The gynecologist will discuss the options with the patient, and the choice is likely to depend on the extent of prolapse, and the individual’s situation, including age, general health and whether or not they want to have more children.

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Urinary Incontinence

Loss of bladder control is twice as likely to affect women than men, with the most common types of urinary incontinence that affect women being urge incontinence/overactive bladder and stress incontinence which may be due to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause making it more likely. However, urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging, and it can typically be treated.

Urinary incontinence in itself is not a disease, rather a symptom of another problem such as weak pelvic floor muscles, urinary tract infections, certain medications, diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, an enlarged prostate, childbirth, and menopause. In addition to this condition some women may also have other urinary symptoms such as pressure /spasms in the pelvic area the create a strong urge to urinate; going to the bathroom more than usual( 8+ times during the day or 3+ times at night); and urinating while sleeping.

“Silence around bladder health has made the topic taboo. We often ignore our bladders, as long as they don’t give us any trouble. And when women do experience bladder problems, we often feel too embarrassed to get help…Taking care of your bladder is a way of loving yourself.” — Tamara Bavendam, M.D., M.S., Program Director, Women’s Urologic Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

1 out of 2 women and 1 out of 4 men are estimated to suffer from urinary incontinence symptoms in America, according to the Urology Care Foundation. If you are one of these people and the fear of leaks prevents you from doing things that you enjoy, perhaps it is time to think about getting this condition treated. Do not be embarrassed to talk to a medical professional about this common condition, as there are treatment options designed to help you.

There are a few steps that are generally recommended to try and treat urinary incontinence which are fairly simple, and for many women can make the incontinence issue go away completely or help to make leaks smaller and less frequent at the very least. These steps might include doing Kegel exercises, training your bladder, losing weight, changing eating habits, quitting smoking, and treating constipation.