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

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


If you have rectal prolapse, you may notice a reddish lump that comes out of the anus, often while straining during a bowel movement. The lump may slip back inside the anus, or it may continue to be seen.

Other symptoms may include:

  • You cannot control your bowel movements, known as fecal incontinence.
  • Constipation or loose stools.
  • Leaking blood or mucus from the rectum.
  • Feeling that your rectum isn't empty after a bowel movement.


The cause of rectal prolapse is unclear. Though it's a common belief that rectal prolapse is related to childbirth, about one-third of women with this health problem never had children.

Risk factors

Some things may increase your risk of getting rectal prolapse, including:

  • Sex. Most people with rectal prolapse are women.
  • Age. Rectal prolapse most often happens in people over age 50.
  • Constipation. Straining may increase the risk of rectal prolapse.