Rectal prolapse occurs when part of the large intestine's lowest section (rectum) slips outside the muscular opening at the end of the digestive tract (anus). While rectal prolapse may cause discomfort, it's rarely a medical emergency.

Rectal prolapse can sometimes be treated with stool softeners, suppositories and other medications. But surgery is usually needed to treat rectal prolapse.


If you have rectal prolapse, you may notice a reddish mass that comes out of the anus, often while straining during a bowel movement. The mass may slip back inside the anus, or it may remain visible.

Other symptoms may include:

  • The inability to control bowel movements (fecal incontinence)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Leaking blood or mucus from the rectum
  • Feeling that your rectum isn't empty after a bowel movement


The cause for rectal prolapse is unclear. Though it's a common assumption that rectal prolapse is associated with childbirth, about one-third of women with the condition have never had children.

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing rectal prolapse, including:

  • Sex. A majority of people with rectal prolapse are women.
  • Age. Rectal prolapse is more common in people over age 50.

Rectal prolapse care at Mayo Clinic

June 26, 2021
  1. Cohee MW, et al. Benign anorectal conditions: Evaluation and management. American Family Physician. 2020;101:24.
  2. Rectal prolapse. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/anatomic-problems-lower-gi-tract/rectal-prolapse. Accessed March 26, 2021.
  3. Rectal prolapse. American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons. https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/rectal-prolapse-expanded-version. Accessed March 22, 2021.
  4. Tsunoda A. Surgical treatment of rectal prolapse in the laparoscopic era; A review of the literature. Journal of the Anus, Rectum and Colon. 2020; doi:10.23922/jarc.2019-035.
  5. Varma MG, et al. Surgical approach to rectal procidentia (rectal prolapse). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 26, 2021.
  6. Varma MG, et al. Overview of rectal procidentia (rectal prolapse). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 26, 2021.
  7. Morrow ES. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. April 16, 2021.


Products & Services