Why Does It Hurt When I Poop: Causes And Treatments For Painful Bowel Movements

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Why Does It Hurt When I Poop: Causes And Treatments For Painful Bowel Movements

It can be a very unpleasant experience if sharp pains during a bowel movement make it hurt when you poop. Pain when pooping can happen to anyone at some point in their lives. Painful bowel movements can be caused by hemorrhoids, diarrhea, or inflammation in your rectum. Straining to pass stool because of constipation can also make defecation painful. Even just eating spicy foods can irritate your anus causing burning diarrhea and a burning sensation during or after a bowel movement.

If your anus hurts when you poop, you may have other symptoms that can help diagnose the cause. For example, straining to pass stool can cause rectal pain along with bleeding, anal itching (pruritus ani), or leakage from your back passage. Usually, treatments for anal pain when pooping involve remedies to soothe irritated skin around the anus. Also, increasing fiber intake and fluids help to soften stool and take the pain out of pooping.

Of course, if painful defecation is caused by an underlying health condition, it’s important to address those issues to resolve the rectal pain.

In this article, you will find out the many reasons for anal pain during or after pooping. You will also find out what you can do if it hurts when you poop.

Symptoms of Painful Bowel Movements

Anal pain when pooping or after finishing a bowel movement may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms. For example, you could have sharp, knife-like pains in your butt that last for a few minutes after pooping if you have an anal fissure.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that if you have pain when pooping, you may have some of the following symptoms:1

  • Bleeding and intense burning pain after pooping
  • Abdominal cramping with an intense urge to poop
  • A visible bulge at the anal opening
  • Excess gas and abdominal bloating
  • Difficulty passing stool without pain
  • Passing hard lumpy stool that causes small cracks in the anus

Passing blood along with a painful bowel movement is rarely a sign of colorectal cancer. However, you should always speak to your doctor if you pass bloody stools.

Reasons Why It Hurts When You Poop

Let’s look in more detail why your butt hurts when you poop, or why you have a burning sensation in your anus after passing stool.

Hemorrhoids

Large hemorrhoids can really make it hurt when your poop. Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels in your anus similar to varicose veins. Hemorrhoids can develop in the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or create bulges around the anus (external hemorrhoids). Hemorrhoids can last for up to a few weeks.

Although hemorrhoids usually cause bleeding during or after a bowel movement without pain, the journal Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery reports that enlarged external hemorrhoids can be extremely painful during a bowel movement. Hemorrhoid pain while pooping can also occur if a blood clot forms in the hemorrhoid. These types of sore hemorrhoids are treated by being drained by a medical professional.2

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic report that signs of hemorrhoids can include:3

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  • Burning sensation around the anus during bowel movements or after
  • Swelling of the anus
  • A visible sore lump near the anal opening
  • Small amounts of blood in the toilet or on tissue paper after wiping

If you have pain around the anus due to hemorrhoids, you can try using some essential oils to relieve rectal pain. Other natural remedies for hemorrhoids include increasing fiber and fluid intake, applying witch hazel, or using diluted apple cider vinegar to control the urge to itch.

Constipation

Your anus could hurt when you poop if you have constipation and have to strain during a bowel movement. Hardened stool that makes bowel movements painful can develop due to your diet, certain medications, or an underlying health condition.

According to Dr. Jerry Balentine on eMedicineHealth, if constipation causes severe anal pain while having a bowel movement, you should speak to your doctor. Painful defecation because of constipation along with other changes in bowel habits can be symptomatic of other diseases.4

Also, Dr. Balentine says that constipation is common during pregnancy. Hormonal changes, pressure on the bowel, or anal fissures can cause painful bowel movements when you are pregnant.

Other symptoms of constipation can include:

  • Having less than 3 bowel movements a week
  • Sharp pains while trying to have a bowel movement
  • Feelings as if you still need to pass stool after a bowel movement

There are many natural laxatives you can try that help to soften stool without medication to reduce rectal pain while pooping.

Probiotics are also good for constipation – they help to soften stools, regulate bowel movements, and make you poop more often.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea can irritate the skin around your anal opening causing a burning anus as well as an itchy butt after you have finished pooping. Diarrhea can be a symptom of digestive conditions that cause pain when pooping. Or, the concentration of bile and stomach acids in watery stools can irritate the skin causing a burning anus.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that rectal pain often accompanies diarrhea if it is caused by other inflammatory bowel diseases.5

Doctors from the National Institutes of Health say that other symptoms of diarrhea can include:6

There are many reasons why irritation in your digestive tract causes diarrhea. Some natural remedies for treating the symptoms of diarrhea include ginger to improve digestion, taking probiotics for digestive health, or dealing with stress better.

It is also important to drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself well-hydrated and prevent the symptoms of dehydration.

Anal fissures

You may experience a sharp pain when pooping if you have any kind of anal fissure at your anal opening. An anal fissure is one or more cracks in the skin around your anus and it can cause very painful stool along with bleeding.

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According to Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info, anal fissures usually cause your anus to hurt during a bowel movement. The jabbing pains in your anus can last for up to one hour after pooping. Very often, the anal skin tears and causes rectal pain when trying to pass hard stools.7

The Permanente Journal says that apart from your anus hurting after pooping, other symptoms of an anal fissure can include:8

  • Severe pain with a bowel movement along with rectal bleeding
  • Itchy anus
  • Visible tear in the skin of the anal opening
  • A small lump of skin (skin tag) near the anal opening

Increasing fiber intake and fluids to make pooping easier and less painful is an effective way to prevent anal fissures causing discomfort.

Anal fistula

A sharp pain in your rectum during defecation along with anal leakage can be a sign that you have an anal fistula. An abscess in your anus can leave a small channel in your rectum with an opening at your anus. This is called an anal fistula and it usually causes intense butt itching and rectal fluid to leak.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that an anal fistula can cause throbbing butt pain while passing stool. The fistula can also cause discomfort and pain even when you are not having a poop. Other uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms of an anal fistula include:9

  • Passing stool along with mucus or blood
  • Burning and itching around your anus
  • Rectal discharge that has an unpleasant odor
  • Signs of an abscess in your anus

Surgery is usually required to treat an anal fistula and your doctor can advise on the best course of treatment.

Proctitis

Proctitis is an inflammation of your anus and it can cause a sharp pain in your anus and painful bowel movements. Some of the causes of proctitis are infections of the anus, sexually transmitted diseases, or an autoimmune condition.

Dr. Hardik C. Soni on eMedicineHealth says that the main symptom of proctitis is pain when trying to poop. Along with rectal pain, you may have general discomfort and itching around the anus and in your rectum. Sometimes cramping, passing bloody stools, or pooping mucus can occur with proctitis.10

Doctors need to advise on the best course of treatment to treat rectal inflammation and get rid of any anal discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

One reason why your anus hurts when trying to poop is if you have an inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation of the rectum and painful defecation.

Dr. Hardik Soni (quoted earlier) says that inflammatory bowel disorders can also result in painful symptoms of proctitis.10

Also, Dr. Minesh Khatri on WebMD says that IBD can cause many symptoms that are associated with painful stools. For example, constipation and diarrhea are symptomatic of IBD. Also, if you have IBD, it is more likely that your stomach hurts when you poop.11

There are some natural home remedies that can help to manage the symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disease. For example, some studies show that taking 2 teaspoons of Manuka honey before breakfast can help to relieve inflammation in the colon.12

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Tailbone pain

You could be experiencing painful poop if you have damaged the very base of your spine. Tailbone pain (medical name: coccydynia) can make sitting painful as well as causing sharp anal pains when pooping.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that painful bowel movements can occur as pressure is put on your tailbone when pooping. You may also suffer from deep pain when sitting or experience pain during sexual intercourse.13

Doctors recommend using heat treatment to ease tailbone pain or taking a course of physical therapy.

Other Reasons Why It Hurts to Poop

There are other, less common reasons why it can hurt to poop.

Anal spasms. Dr. Parswa Ansari, a surgeon from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says that levator syndrome causes muscle spasms in the anus. This can result in brief pain that lasts for a few seconds to several hours. Anal muscle spasms can cause pain during a bowel movement or between bowel movements.14

Anal cancer. Doctors from the National Health Service say that a rare symptom of anal cancer is painful stools along with some rectal bleeding. Because anal cancer can have similar symptoms to hemorrhoids or anal fissures, you should always see a doctor if you poop bloody feces.15

Prostatitis. Inflammation or infection of the prostate in men can result in stabbing pains when trying to poop. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical say that prostatitis can cause rectal pressure or pain as well as lower back pain. You may also notice that you have a stinging sensation when urinating or throbbing aches in the genital area.16

Fecal impaction. Chronic constipation can cause fecal impaction where a hard mass of stool lodges in the colon or rectum. The journal Clinics in Colon & Rectal Surgery reports that common symptoms of fecal impaction can include rectal discomfort and a fear of sharp pain associated with trying to pass hardened stool.17

Why Does it Burn When I Poop: Reasons for Burning Anus

Some types of pain when pooping feel more like your anus is burning during or after a bowel movement.

Spicy foods

You might find that your butt burns when you poop if you have been eating spicy foods. Very often chili or hot peppers in food can cause a burning sensation in your butt when you poop.

The journal Arquivos de Gastoenterologia reports that eating spicy food can cause a burning bowel movement. There are several reasons for spicy food causing a burning anus. For example, spicy food can aggravate the symptoms of anal fissures and hemorrhoids. In the study, people who consumed chili complained of pain and anal burning more than those who didn’t eat spicy food.18

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene may be a reason for anal pain and a burning anus when trying to poop. An itchy anus that is sore while pooping can happen because of a lack of hygiene or aggressive anal cleaning after a bowel movement.

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Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that if the anus isn’t cleaned properly after pooping, leftover stool can irritate the anus causing itching and discomfort. The itch-scratch cycle can lead to anal fissures and secondary infections that will make it hurt to poop.19

Skin conditions

Certain skin conditions can result in a sensation of burning anus when you are having a bowel movement.

According to gastroenterologist, Dr. Jay W. Marks, intense anal burning and itching during or after pooping can happen if you have skin irritation caused by diarrhea, a yeast infection, anal psoriasis, or pinworms.20

Dr. Marks recommends gently cleaning the anus after every bowel movement to prevent a burning sensation in your anus. You can do this by using damp toilet tissue and dabbing your anus to clean stool or anal leakage.

Other reasons for a burning anus

Other health conditions that cause sharp pains in the rectum when pooping can also result in a burning anus. These are any of the following:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissure
  • Anal fistula
  • Diarrhea
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

How to Treat Pain When Pooping

There are a few home remedies that can alleviate discomfort and pain if it hurts to poop.

Sitz bath

One very effective way to get rid of rectal pain associated with bowel movements is to take a sitz bath.

A study published in the World Journal of Surgery reported on the effectiveness of a sitz bath for rectal pain. Researchers asked some patients with symptoms of painful bowel movements and anal burning to regularly take a sitz bath. It was reported that sitting in a shallow bath of warm water helped to reduce the symptoms of anal burning.21

Dr. Nivin Todd on WebMD reports that a sitz bath can help relieve rectal soreness and burning in people who suffer from hemorrhoids, anal fissures, diarrhea, or prostatitis.22

How to take a sitz bath to reduce anal pain when pooping:

  1. Fill a bathtub with several inches of warm water so there is just enough to cover your genitals.
  2. Sit in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. You can also bring your knees up to your chin to make sure the warm water soothes your anal region.
  4. Pat yourself dry with a clean, soft towel.
  5. Soak in the sitz bath up to 3 times a day to help treat the symptoms of sore bowel movements and a burning anus.

Consume more fiber and fluids

One way to prevent many digestive problems and avoid painful bowel movements is to consume enough fiber and fluids in your diet.

According to research published in the Permanente Journal, increasing dietary fiber can help to reduce the presence of anal fissures and prevent many colorectal disorders. Fiber helps to soften stool and put less pressure on the rectum, sphincter, and anus while pooping. Researchers concluded that fiber can treat painful defecation and promote healing of the anus.8

Water helps fiber to improve the way your digestive systems works. So, make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

One way to increase your fiber intake is to eat more cruciferous vegetables. Eating plenty of green leafy vegetables will also boost your health because you get more vitamins and nutrients which improves your immune system.

When to See a Doctor

Suffering pain when pooping can be very distressing especially if it creates a fear of pain during a bowel movement. In many cases, natural remedies can help to improve your digestion and reduce sharp pains during bowel movements.

However, in some cases, you should see your doctor if you have sharp rectal pain when passing stool, or if you frequently have a burning sensation after pooping. Dr. Neha Pathak on WebMD advises seeing your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:22

  • You frequently have constipation or bouts of diarrhea
  • Your poop contains traces of blood or you notice rectal bleeding after a bowel movement
  • Bowel movements are frequently associated with anal pain
  • You notice significant changes in your bowel habits

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. ClevelandClinic. Detecting and treating diseases of the colon and rectum.
  2. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2011 Mar; 24(1): 5–13.
  3. MayoClinic. Hemorrhoids.
  4. MedicineNet. Constipation (adults).
  5. MedicineNet. Rectal pain: symptoms & signs.
  6. NIDDK. Symptoms & causes of diarrhea.
  7. PatientInfo. Anal fissure.
  8. Perm J. 2007 Fall; 11(4): 62–65.
  9. NHS. Anal fistula.
  10. eMedicineHealth. Proctitis.
  11. WebMD. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
  12. Phytother Res.2008 Nov;22(11):1511-9.
  13. ClevelandClinic. Coccydynia (tailbone pain).
  14. MSDManuals. Levator syndrome.
  15. NHS. Anal pain.
  16. HopkinsMedicine. Prostatitis.
  17. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2005 May; 18(2): 116–119.
  18. Gastroenterol. 2008 Apr./June;45(2): 124-127.
  19. HealthHarvard. Anal itch (pruritus ani).
  20. MedicineNet. Anal itching (pruritus ani).
  21. World J Surg.2007 Jul;31(7):1480-4.
  22. WebMD. What is constipation?
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