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A small rectocele may not cause any symptoms, especially if it bulges less than 2 centimeters (less than 1 inch) into the vagina. However, larger rectoceles can trigger a variety of rectal and vaginal complaints, including:

  • A bulge of tissue protruding through the vaginal opening

  • Constipation

  • Difficulty having a bowel movement

  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse

  • A feeling that the rectum has not emptied completely after a bowel movement

  • A sensation of rectal pressure

  • Rectal pain

  • Difficulty controlling the passage of stool or gas from the rectum

  • Low back pain that is relieved by lying down. In many women, this back pain may worsen as the day goes on and is more severe in the evening.

In some cases, the patient must use a technique called manual evacuation or digitation to help empty the rectum. In this technique, the patient presses on the rectocele with her fingers while defecating to help the stool to pass.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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