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What Are the Causes of a Rectal Prolapse?

author image Carole Anne Tomlinson
Carole Anne Tomlinson is a registered nurse with experience in rehabilitation, nutrition, chemical dependency, diabetes and health problems related to the elderly. Tomlinson holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and is presently working on her master's degree in nursing. Her screenplays have been viewed by Merchant Ivory, Angela Lansbury and Steven King's associates.
What Are the Causes of a Rectal Prolapse?
Doctor's bag. Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images


Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum, a portion of the colon, looses its internal support and protrudes from the anus. Rectal prolapse may be internal, but in advanced stages, it becomes visible outside the body. Continual rectal pressure will cause a rectal prolapse. Because the rectum cannot tolerate the pressure of continual strain, at some point, it will collapse and the colon will protrude out of the rectal vault, which holds the rectum intact, MayoClinic.com indicates.


Obesity may cause a rectal prolapse to occur. Continual pressure on the rectum caused by the actual pressure of a large amount of weight will cause the rectum to protrude. Losing weight will help avoid this problem. An obese person who continually strains to have a bowel movement has a significant chance of experiencing a rectal prolapse.


Continual constipation and straining for a bowel movement increases the chances of a rectal prolapse, Proctology.us indicates. Constipation may occur for a variety of reasons including as a side effect of medication and improper diet. It also may occur due to illness, but in most cases it will end on its own. Eating foods high in fiber will help problems with constipation, as well as talking with the doctor concerning other methods of treatment.

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Laxative Abuse

Elderly people who have overused or abused laxatives throughout their lives also may suffer a rectal prolapse, Proctology.us reports. Chronic use of laxatives causes a decrease in anal and sphincter tone, causing the colon to prolapse over time. The tone of the rectum and pelvis floor remains an important part of the rectal and vaginal muscular floor.


People suffering from hemorrhoids also may develop a rectal prolapse because the rectum loses tone with the continuation of hemorrhoid formation and irritation, Proctology.us states. A person can help to avoid this problem by using over-the-counter or prescription-level medications to decrease the irritation that occurs in the rectum from hemorrhoids.

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