Rectocele is a condition in which the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina. It occurs when the rectovaginal septum, a muscular wall that separates the rectum and vagina, weakens. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including difficulty having a bowel movement, pelvic pain, and discomfort during sex. The condition is relatively common, affecting up to 50% of women, and can develop as a result of childbirth, menopause, or aging.
Symptoms of rectocele can vary, but the most common include:
Constipation: Rectocele can cause difficulty having a bowel movement due to the bulge of the rectum into the vagina. This can obstruct the passage of stool and cause constipation.
Pelvic pain: The pressure from the bulging rectum can cause pelvic pain, especially during bowel movements.
Discomfort during sex: The bulging rectum can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful.
Urinary incontinence: Rectocele can also contribute to urinary incontinence, which is the accidental loss of urine. This is because the bulging rectum can put pressure on the bladder and make it more difficult to control urination.
Fecal incontinence: The bulging rectum can cause fecal incontinence, which is the accidental loss of stool. This can be a result of the inability to control bowel movements due to the rectum bulging into the vagina.
Treatment for rectocele depends on the severity of the condition and the symptoms that are present. For mild cases, lifestyle changes, such as increasing fiber and fluid intake, and pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, can be effective in relieving symptoms. For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The most common surgical procedure used to treat rectocele is called a rectocele repair.
During a rectocele repair, the surgeon will make an incision in the vagina and the rectum. The bulging rectum will then be repositioned back into its proper place and the rectovaginal septum will be repaired. The incision in the vagina will be closed, and the surgery will be completed.
Recovery from rectocele repair surgery can take several weeks. You may need to avoid strenuous activity and sexual intercourse for several weeks after the procedure. Pain and discomfort are common after the surgery, but this should subside over time. You may also need to follow a low-fiber diet for a few weeks to allow your body to heal.
In conclusion, rectocele is a condition that can cause a variety of symptoms, including constipation, pelvic pain, and discomfort during sex. The most common treatment for rectocele is a rectocele repair surgery, which is an effective way to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. However, lifestyle changes and pelvic floor exercises can also be effective in managing mild cases of rectocele. If you are experiencing symptoms of rectocele, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you.