What to Do If You Experience a Rectal Prolapse

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which there is a protusion of the rectum out through the anus. This article will answer some basic questions about the condition.

Woman who is sitting on the toilet

Who Is Likely to Experience a Rectal Prolapse?

Although rectal prolapse can affect anyone, it is most common in adults, and women ages 50 and older have six times the risk as men. It occurs in children, usually between infancy and 4 years of age, who have an underlying predisposing condition. There is no such gender disparity in childhood cases.


Rectal prolapse may develop and worsen over time. The predominant symptom is the sensation of a lump pushing through the anus during a bowel movement. In the early stages, the prolapse will subside on its own. As the condition worsens, the prolapse needs to be manually dealt with or will not recede at all. The prolapse may also be triggered by coughing or standing.

Additional symptoms include:

If you suspect that you have a rectal prolapse, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will determine if your symptoms are caused by a rectal prolapse or a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid.


There are a wide variety of factors that may contribute to the development of a rectal prolapse. Rectal prolapses may result from obesity, poor bowel habits or chronic constipation, but also may be due to abnormalities in the structure and muscles and ligaments of the anus, rectum and pelvic floor. Pregnancy and injury during childbirth are also possible causes.


The primary treatment for rectal prolapse is surgery. There are numerous types of procedures available; your healthcare provider will determine which is right for you. Factors to be considered are your age, your health status, and whether or not constipation is a chronic problem. The goal of surgery is to repair the prolapse with an eye toward preventing a reoccurrence of the problem.

After surgery, associated symptoms should be relieved; most notably, for most people, fecal incontinence is no longer a problem.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1.  American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Rectal Prolapse.

  2. Rentea RM, St peter SD. Pediatric Rectal Prolapse. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2018;31(2):108-116. doi:10.1055/s-0037-1609025

  3. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Rectal Prolapse Expanded Version.

Additional Reading
  • Goldstein, S. & Maxwell, P. "Rectal Prolapse" Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery 2011 24:39-45.
  • O'Brien, D. "Rectal Prolapse" Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery 2007 20:125-132.
  • Safar, B. & Sands, D. "Abdominal Approaches for Rectal Prolapse" Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery 2008 21:94-99.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.