Rectal Prolapse in Adults

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Topic Overview

Rectal prolapse in adults mostly occurs in women age 60 and older. Things that can increase the risk of rectal prolapse include:

  • Structural malformation or damage from childbirth or injury. Some people develop rectal prolapse as a result of a condition they have had since birth, such as an abnormal structure of pelvic muscles. Also, childbirth or a back injury can damage structures, organs, or nerves in the pelvic area. This can make proper function of the intestines more difficult.
  • Surgery. Surgery on the anus or rectum can affect rectal function. Also, surgery on a woman's reproductive organs, such as removal of the uterus (hysterectomy), makes it more likely that the other organs, such as the bladder or large intestine (colon), will move out of position. Surgery on the back or spinal cord can damage the nerves that are involved with the proper function of the intestines.
  • Pressure on the intestines. Common causes of intestinal pressure include frequent straining during bowel movements, usually because of constipation; tumors or other growths, such as cancer, in the rectum or large intestine; or certain conditions, such as rectocele or a prolapsed uterus.
  • Aging. Over time, the muscles in the anal sphincter and elsewhere in the pelvis can weaken and fail to give enough support to the rectum.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerC. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014