Used unqualified, the term rectal prolapse often is used synonymously with complete rectal prolapse (external rectal prolapse), where the rectal walls have prolapsed to a degree where they protrude out the anus and are visible outside the body. However, most researchers agree that there are 3 to 5 different types of rectal prolapse, depending on if the prolapsed section is visible externally, and if the full or only partial thickness of the rectal wall is involved.Rectal prolapse may occur without any symptoms, but depending upon the nature of the prolapse there may be mucous discharge (mucus coming from the anus), rectal bleeding, degrees of fecal incontinence and obstructed defecation symptoms.Rectal prolapse is generally more common in elderly women, although it may occur at any age and in both sexes. It is very rarely life-threatening, but the symptoms can be debilitating if left untreated. Most external prolapse cases can be treated successfully, often with a surgical procedure. Internal prolapses are traditionally harder to treat and surgery may not be suitable for many patients.