An enterocele or small bowel prolapse occurs when the tissues and muscles that hold the small bowel in place are stretched or weakened. It may develop if the muscles in a woman's vaginal canal become damaged by pregnancy, labor, childbirth, or a previous pelvic surgery or are weakened by aging. In rare cases, it can be present at birth (congenital).
An enterocele may become large or more obvious when a woman strains or bears down (for example, during a bowel movement). It may cause a heavy feeling in the vagina, constipation, or incomplete emptying of the bowel. Some women experience a pulling or aching feeling in the low back or pelvis that may be more noticeable after standing for a long time.
Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, called Kegel exercises, may help relieve some symptoms of enterocele. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.