A rectocele is a fairly common condition, especially among women who've given birth. It occurs when the end of the large intestine pushes against the back wall of your vagina. This produces discomfort that can sometimes be quite debilitating. In most cases, you can self-treat the problem with exercises, according to the Mayo Clinic. But in other instances, surgery is required. How can you tell the difference?
The Level of Pain Is the Key
Women usually suffer rectocele when the muscles of their lower pelvis weaken during childbirth or following a pelvic surgery. Rectocele can also occur when women age; it's natural for muscles to weaken as they get older.
If you suffer from rectocele, and if this condition produces an extreme amount of pain when you strain, bend down or lift heavy objects, you might consider surgery. Ask yourself this question: Are you able to live your life normally with the condition? If the answer is "no," surgery might be your best option.
To treat rectocele, surgeons will usually strengthen the tissue connecting your rectum to your vagina. Most times, these doctors will use stitches to boost the strength of this tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. But some doctors use a mesh patch as a way to provide extra support to the wall connecting your rectum and vagina.
It's important to know that while this surgery is successful the majority of the time, it's not impossible for you to suffer another rectocele in the future.
You May Be Able to Avoid Surgery
Your physician may prescribe a series of exercises designed to allow you to self-treat your rectocele. This only happens when the pain of your condition is mild. If the rectocele isn't preventing you from doing the activities you love -- whether that means a daily bicycle ride, a long walk through town or a vigorous game of tennis -- you may consider asking your doctor to recommend specific exercises to eliminate the symptoms of rectocele.
New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, on its Web page, recommends kegel exercises for women with rectocele. These exercises call for women to squeeze their pelvic muscles. If you've ever been pregnant, your doctor may already have recommended these exercises to you. That's because they help strengthen the muscles surrounding the bladder and vagina.
You Can Take Steps to Prevent Rectocele
There are no guarantees, but you can take steps to prevent rectocele. You should avoid lifting weights that are overly heavy, and you should quit smoking. It's also important to lose extra weight. Finally, you can perform kegel exercises on your own, even if you show no symptoms of rectocele. By performing these exercises, you'll develop stronger muscles, and be less susceptible to the condition.