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Enterocele

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and other tissues that support several abdominal organs, including the intestines. If your pelvic floor becomes damaged, your small intestine can start bulging into the front wall of your vagina.

This is called enterocele. It is one type of pelvic organ prolapse.

Enterocele causes

Pelvic floor damage leading to enterocele most often results from the following:

  • Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth
  • Chronic constipation or difficulty passing stool
  • Obesity
  • Frequent heavy lifting or straining
  • Chronic or violent coughing

Enterocele symptoms

Common symptoms of enterocele include the following:

  • Feeling that something is bulging into your vagina
  • Feeling that something is about to fall out of your vagina
  • Pain in your lower back or pelvic area
  • Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)

How can I get help for enterocele?

If you have one or more of the above symptoms and they don’t go away, speak with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN. If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. 

At Rush, you also have the option of contacting the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health, which is designed to address the full range of issues related to pelvic pain. The program has a coordinator who will help you navigate the multiple specialists you might need to see to find relief.

Care for enterocele at Rush

If you are diagnosed with enterocele, your treatment will depend on many factors, such as your age, overall health and the severity of the problem. Your care at Rush may involve one or more of the following:

Nonsurgical treatments

  • Avoiding strain: If your enterocele is not bothering you, your doctor may recommend simply avoiding activities, such as heavy lifting, that could make it worse.
  • Physical therapy: Doctors and physical therapists at Rush can work with you to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles through a number of exercises. This can help improve bothersome symptoms.
  • Pessary: Doctors at Rush can fit you for this device, a rubber ring you insert in your vagina to support your pelvic floor organs.
  • Estrogen therapy: Your doctor at Rush may recommend estrogen therapy, which may involve taking a medication by mouth or applying a cream to your skin. This can help strengthen pelvic tissue. And if you are planning to have enterocele surgery, taking estrogen beforehand can promote faster healing afterward.

Surgery

If your enterocele is causing severe discomfort or significantly interfering with your quality of life, you may need surgery to repair it.

Skilled urogynecologists and pelvic reconstructive surgeons at Rush offer several methods of putting the vagina back in place and tightening your pelvic muscles. They may operate through your vagina or through your abdomen.

Whenever possible, urogynecologic and pelvic reconstructive surgeons at Rush use minimally invasive procedures that require only small incisions. Minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopy and robotic surgery, can lead to less scarring and pain, as well as faster recovery times.

Why choose Rush for enterocele care

  • Pioneering care for pelvic and abdominal health: More than a decade ago, Rush became the first academic medical center in Chicago to create a pelvic health program focused exclusively on providing care for patients with incontinence, vaginal pain, enterocele and other pelvic and abdominal conditions.

Departments and programs that treat this condition