What do we mean by the term rectocele?

In a woman, the rectum is located just behind the vagina. Between the rectum and the vagina is a hard fibrous wall of connective and supportive tissues (fascia) that separates the anus from the vagina. This rectovaginal wall is made of tissues and muscles that support the rectum and vagina. When a woman has a rectocele, the wall that supports the rectum is weaker than usual.

Sometimes a weakness develops in the front face of the rectovaginal wall, allowing a portion of the rectum to bulge into the vagina. This swelling is called a rectocele. It is usually the result of damage to the rectovaginal wall – from pressure and stretching – that occurs during a normal delivery.

There are three types of Hernia: high, medium and low. High rectoceles are usually due to a looseness or disruption of the upper one-third of the tissue of the vaginal wall and the sacral ligaments. The most common are mid-level rectoceles and are associated with loss of pelvic floor support. Low rectoceles are usually caused by obstetric trauma.

What factors cause an orthotic hernia?

The main risk factors for developing a rectocele are:

  • Multiple normal deliveries
  • Peritectomy performed along with normal delivery
  • Menopause
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic cough
  • Repetitive weight lifting or any other activity that over time puts pressure on the pelvic floor