Pain when pooping could be a symptom of an underlying health condition. It is therefore not something you should put up with. There are many health conditions that cause pain when pooping, which are easily treated. By seeing your doctor, you can get a diagnosis and, if needed, appropriate treatment.
As food moves through your gut, water is absorbed. If it passes too slowly through your gut, too much water is absorbed. This causes hard stools that are difficult and painful to pass out of your body; you may also feel pain or discomfort in your lower gut due to backed up stools. If this occurs and you are passing stools less than three times a week, you have constipation.
Constipation can be caused by not having enough fibre in your diet, not drinking enough fluids, not exercising enough, taking certain medications or major changes in your lifestyle, eg travelling abroad or pregnancy.
Symptoms of constipation include:
To reduce your risk of constipation, try to:
If your constipation persists, see your doctor as they may recommend trying laxatives.
Anal fissures are small tears in or around your anus. They often occur when passing large or hard stools. Symptoms include an intense, stinging pain when your open your bowels as the anal fissures cause the muscles around your anus to spasm. Other symptoms include:
Anal fissures usually heal on their own in around a month. During this time, you can reduce your pain by drinking more fluids and eating more fibre — this will soften your stools so they are easier to pass.
You can also try sitting in a sitz bath (a shallow basin that sits on top of a toilet, which you fill with warm water) and applying an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory cream or pain relief cream. If you are still in pain, see your doctor. They may recommend trying laxatives or other treatments.
Haemorrhoids, which are also called piles, are swellings that develop inside your back passage (rectum) or around your anus. They affect up to a third of the UK population.
Haemorrhoids can be caused by straining when opening your bowels and/or sitting on the toilet for too long. Your risk of piles increases if you are overweight, obese or pregnant.
Haemorrhoids can cause bleeding and pain when opening your bowels. If you develop a blood clot in your haemorrhoid (thrombosed haemorrhoid), you may also experience pain when sitting and walking. Other symptoms of haemorrhoids include:
If you are in pain or discomfort, you can try:
Also, whenever you take a bath or shower, make sure you gently wash your anus and avoid using scented soaps. When wiping your bottom after opening your bowels, use soft toilet paper or a bidet.
To avoid constipation, which can worsen your haemorrhoids symptoms, follow a diet rich in fibre and drink lots of water. This will help soften your stools, so opening your bowels will be less painful. You can also speak to your doctor about taking fibre supplements or laxatives to soften your stools.
For severe haemorrhoids, you may need more invasive treatment to remove your haemorrhoids, such as surgery.
Inflammatory bowel disease refers to two different conditions with overlapping symptoms: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause soreness, swelling and ulcers in your large intestine and rectum. This makes passing stools painful. Other symptoms include:
If you have ulcerative colitis, you may also feel an urgent need to open your bowels and after doing so may still feel that your bowels are not empty.
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are lifelong conditions. However, you can manage your condition by changing your diet, ie following a low-meat, low-dairy, moderate-fibre diet with little to no alcohol or caffeine. Some medications can help ease your symptoms, including:
If you have an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics eg metronidazole. If you have intestinal bleeding, you may develop anaemia and may be prescribed iron supplements.
As inflammatory bowel disease can reduce your ability to absorb nutrients from your food, you may also be prescribed calcium and/or vitamin D supplements to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended. This involves removing parts or all of your large intestine and rectum. A small pouch will be left connecting your small intestine to your anus or a bag outside of your body.
Chronic (long-term) skin conditions can affect the skin around your anus, causing pain before, during and after you open your bowels, as well as bleeding and itching after your stools come out. These conditions include eczema, psoriasis and warts.
Certain infections can cause pain in and around your anus before, during and after opening your bowels. This includes:
Chlamydia or syphilis
Chlamydia or syphilis are STIs, which spread through unprotected sex with someone infected. When spread through anal sex, they can infect your anus and rectum and cause:
Treatment for these STIs includes antibiotics (eg azithromycin or doxycycline) and for severe syphilis, penicillin injections. When you are undergoing treatment for an STI, you should abstain from sex to avoid spreading your infection.
You can reduce your risk of catching an STI by always using protection such as condoms when having sex, including anal and oral sex, and getting STI tests if you are sexually active.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV infection causes warts near your anus, genitals, mouth or throat. Anal warts can cause a raw, stinging pain when you open your bowels.
There is no complete cure for HPV, however, the warts can be removed with cryotherapy or laser treatment.
Left untreated, HPV can cause anal and cervical cancer, so if you have been infected with HPV you should regularly be tested for STIs and screened for cancer.
To reduce your risk of being infected with HPV, make sure you:
Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue similar to the lining of your womb (endometrium) starts to grow elsewhere and attaches to other organs, such as your ovaries and fallopian tubes. During your period, this tissue bleeds and can cause chronic pain, inflammation and swelling. Other symptoms include:
Treatment for endometriosis includes:
Pain when pooping is not usually caused by anal or rectal cancer but it is a possibility. Symptoms include:
You may also experience bloating, lots of gas, frequent constipation or diarrhoea, fatigue, constant pain or cramps in your abdomen and unexpected weight loss.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment reduces the chances of the cancer spreading and improves your chances of making a complete recovery.
Treatment for anal and rectal cancer includes:
Proctitis refers to inflammation of the lining of your rectum, while anusitis refers to inflammation of the lining of your anus. They can be caused by an STI, inflammatory bowel disease or radiation treatment for cancer. Symptoms overlap with haemorrhoids and include:
You can reduce your chances of proctitis and anusitis by
If parts of your bowel have been damaged by disease, surgery to remove the damaged parts may also reduce your chances of developing proctitis and anusitis.
Proctitis and anusitis can be treated with argon plasma coagulation or electrocoagulation.
Diarrhoea itself may not make passing stools hurt. However, having to wipe your bottom a lot and passing lots of loose stools can irritate your skin. This can make your anus feel raw and sore. Symptoms of diarrhoea include:
Severe cases of diarrhoea are usually treated by rehydrating your body via fluids passed directly into a vein (intravenous line). You may also be prescribed antibiotics if your diarrhoea was caused by an infection.
You can reduce your risk of diarrhoea by:
If you have a food intolerance or sensitivity (eg lactose intolerance or glucose intolerance), eating a trigger food may cause diarrhoea or painful bowel movements. Try to avoid eating foods known to trigger your food intolerance or sensitivity.
There are many potential causes of painful bowel movements and your treatment will depend on which condition you have. Some can be treated at home with lifestyle changes while others will need medical treatment.
You should seek urgent medical attention if you have:
If you have diarrhoea, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and also follow a BRAT diet ie eat more bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast.
If you have constipation, make sure you follow a diet rich in fibre and exercise regularly.
Why does it burn when I poop?
There are several reasons why you may experience a burning sensation when you poop, although the two most common causes are piles (also known as haemorrhoids) or an anal fissure.
Why does it feel like razor blades when I poop?
Extreme pain that feels like you are passing glass or razor blades when you are pooping can be caused by several different conditions, including an anal fissure, anal fistula or piles (also known as haemorrhoids).
Why does my lower abdomen hurt when I need to poop?
There are several reasons why your lower abdomen may hurt when you poop, including inflammatory bowel disease ie ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. If you have severe pain in your lower abdomen or back, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
What do you do if your butt hurts after pooping?
If you have anal pain after pooping, you should see your doctor who can determine if you have an underlying health condition that needs treatment. To ease your symptoms, you can take a warm bath or shower, or apply a cold compress.
What does it mean when you cry while pooping?
If you are crying while pooping due to severe pain, see your doctor as soon as possible. Many conditions can cause anal pain and you may need treatment. If you are crying while pooping for no apparent reason, there is currently no clear understanding of the cause but there are several theories, including a change in the pressure in your abdomen and stimulation of your vagus nerve.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
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