If the prolapse is large, stays out most of the time or is difficult to put back, there is always a risk that it will strangulate. This is a serious problem as the blood supply can be cut off and then the rectum can perforate or the protruding tissue may die.
Other symptoms include a slimy clear or brown discharge (mucus) through the back passage, involuntary loss of stool or bleeding. It may be difficult to maintain hygiene because of these problems.
Increasing the amount of fibre in the diet can make it easier to open the bowels. Eating a high fibre diet (including five portions of fruit / vegetables daily) and drinking six to eight glasses of water each day helps to avoid constipation.
A bulk laxative such as Fybogel may be prescribed to make the stool softer. Sometimes people will be shown how to empty their bowels more effectively to avoid straining. Suppositories or enemas may be prescribed to help empty more effectively without having to strain a lot. People with rectal prolapse should also avoid heavy lifting, get a chronic cough treated, and maintain a healthy weight. These are all things that can reduce the symptoms.
If the rectal prolapse is causing lots of problems and interfering with daily life, then surgery is often advised. The doctor at the hospital clinic will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery based on his examination of the individual and the prolapse. Surgery may be performed through the rectum, through the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus), through the abdomen or a by using a combination of the techniques. The surgeon will discuss these in more detail. The operation will put back the prolapse but in some patients this cannot not improve leakage from the back passage so this may continue.
Outcomes and further sources of support
The information on this page is reproduced from material put together by the Colorectal Development Unit at the Royal London Hospital, part of Barts Health NHS Trust.