Experiencing rectal prolapse is scary. You may try to hold in bowel movements. You may even think you should eat less to decrease the number of bowel movements. But easing rectal prolapse symptoms requires getting your digestive system on a healthy routine to buy time before surgical intervention is needed. Diet, exercise, and, yes, more frequent and regular bowel movements alleviate mild rectal prolapse.
What is Rectal Prolapse?
The rectum is the section of the digestive tract just inside the anus. It holds fecal matter before you have a bowel movement. The rectum can lose its support and attachments inside the body. The force of a bowel movement then pushes a part of the rectum through the anus.
Rectal prolapse can involve the entire rectum or just a portion of the rectum. The first symptom may be seeing or feeling a red bulge protruding from the anus. Women over the age of 50 are six times more likely than men to develop rectal prolapse.
Contributing Factors to Rectal Prolapse
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weakened pelvic floor
- Neurological problems
Symptoms of rectal prolapse include feeling as though you are sitting on a ball, anal pain, fecal incontinence, constipation, rectal pain, and leaking mucus or blood.
A Better Diet
The most important first step in minimizing rectal prolapse is avoiding constipation.
- Stay hydrated – drink 64 oz. of water a day
- Eat whole foods with lots of fiber
- Eat on a schedule
- Eat similarly sized portions every meal (no skipping breakfast and binging at dinner)
- Avoid caffeine
Your digestive tract works best when you eat the same amount at regular intervals.
Some medical conditions make it difficult to follow these dietary rules. At your Coyle Institute consultation, we will talk about your medical history and assess your diet. We will make recommendations customized to your overall health needs.
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Depending on symptoms, a variety of over-the-counter stool softeners, fiber supplements, or gas-relief medication improve symptoms of rectal prolapse. During your consultation, we will talk about medications, including prescriptions, that will best suit your needs.
One way to help minimize rectal prolapse is by strengthening your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a network of muscles and connective tissue that supports the rectum, vagina and other pelvic organs. You can feel your pelvic muscles at work when you control urinary flow or have a bowel movement.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are simply contracting and holding the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly, just as you would work out any muscle in your body.
Your team at Coyle Institute will discuss a specific, custom protocol and method for Kegel exercises when we diagnose rectal prolapse.
Regular exercise, such as walking and stretching, also keep the bowel operating smoothly. Exercise can help prevent constipation, which eases the symptoms of rectal prolapse.
Healthy bowel habits
Once you are on a recommended diet and eating on schedule, you have more regular bowel movements. Many people find a bowel movement in the morning, 30 minutes after breakfast, is a healthy schedule they can maintain. Try to relax and avoid straining. Do not rush. Trying to force or hurry a bowel movement aggravates rectal prolapse. When finished, contract your pelvic floor muscles.
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Rectal Prolapse
Minimally invasive surgical options for rectal prolapse are available at Coyle Institute.
The Minimally Invasive (DaVinci Assisted) Ventral Rectopexy uses a robot controlled by a surgeon. The procedure requires only small incisions, which heal more quickly than traditional surgery. The surgery reattaches the rectum, so it is supported and held in place.
Robotic ventral rectopexy limits surgical complications and lowers risk of infection. Studies also show a lower rate of recurrence using this minimally invasive approach.
After surgery, patients regain control and see improvements in constipation and incontinence.
The Coyle Institute is an urogynecology practice. We are the experts on how pelvic organs work together to keep reproductive, urinary and digestive systems in harmony. If you have symptoms of rectal prolapse, schedule your consultation with our expert team. Together we will find the best treatment option for your rectal prolapse symptoms.