Small bowel prolapse, also called enterocele, occurs when the tissues and muscles that hold the small intestine (small bowel) become stretched or weakened. This is turn causes the small bowel to press against and move the upper wall of the vagina, creating a bulge. Small bowel prolapse can develop if there is an increased amount of pressure on the pelvic muscles, such as from childbirth, aging or other processes. The condition becomes typically worse after being active and shows signs of relief in the morning after lying down all night. Symptoms of small bowel prolapsed can range from severe pelvic pain to subtle discomfort when sitting.To manage small bowel prolapse, self-care treatments are often the most effective; however, in more severe cases of the condition, surgical repair may be vital.  



Signs and symptoms of a small bowel prolapse can include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pressure on the pelvic
  • Pelvic pain
  • Persistent feeling sensation of a full bladder
  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects or during intercourse
  • A bulge of tissue in the vagina
  • Vaginal uneasiness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Bladder infections
  • Difficulties with having a bowel movement



The main cause for a small bowel prolapse is increased pressure on the pelvic floor from conditions such as pregnancy and childbirth. The muscles that hold together and support the vagina begin to stretch and weaken during pregnancy/labor and this in turn causes pelvic organ prolapse.  Other activities that are also causes for small bowel prolapse include:  


  • Not being able to go to the bathroom to relieve oneself
  • Suffering from a chronic cough or bronchitis
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Being overweight


Risk Factors 

Several factors that can increase the risk of developing small bowel prolapse include:

  • Being pregnant
  • Giving birth
  • Increasing in age
  • Undergoing surgical procedures (pelvic surgery)
  • Increased pressure on the stomach
  • Being a smoker
  • Being of Hispanic or Caucasian race
  • Family history of small bowel prolapse or other similar conditions
  • Connective tissue disorders



There are a few complications that can arise from having surgery to treat small bowel prolapsed. These complications include:

  • Irritable bladder
  • Alteration in the vaginal area
  • Urine leakage
  • Damage to the bladder, urethra or vagina



A few recommendations for preventing a small bowel prolapse include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet (eating high fiber foods and drinking plenty of fluids)
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Going to the bathroom to relieve oneself when necessary
  • Treating an ongoing cough
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding lifting heavy objects