Mucus in Stool: Is It Normal? Causes and Treatments

Mucus in Stool: Is It Normal? Causes and Treatments
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It’s normal for a little amount of mucus to be in your stool sometimes. If you have no other symptoms, then there is usually no cause for concern if your stool has some slimy bits in it. Mucus in your stool is usually clear but sometimes can be yellowish or white. Infections in the intestines can change rectal mucus to a thick slimy substance.

Mucus is an important fluid in the body that protects and lubricates organs and tissue. In the case of a gastrointestinal infection or inflammation, the body may start to produce more mucus in your intestines. For example, some causes of pooping slimy mucus are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastrointestinal infections, or hemorrhoids.

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Usually, treating symptoms of mucus in a bowel movement involves addressing the underlying health issue. Some natural remedies can help to reduce the effect of intestinal inflammation or help recover from stomach bugs quickly. This usually results in your poop returning to normal without noticeable signs of stringy white slime or discharge.

In this article, you will learn about reasons why you have mucus in your stool and how to treat mucus in a bowel movement. You will also find out what it means if you only poop mucus and when you should see a doctor for bloody mucus in stool.

What is Mucus?

Mucus that can appear in your stool is produced in the intestines and resembles a clear slimy fluid. It coats the intestinal lining and the colon and lubricates them to prevent bowel irritation and to protect from stomach acid.

Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, Dr. Minesh Khatri, says that intestinal mucus helps to protect your digestive tract from bacteria. Mucus also helps stool to pass through your colon and makes it easier to poop. Sometimes, it’s normal that some rectal mucus can stick to stools.1

What Does Mucus in Stool Look Like?

Rectal discharge that may be noticeable in your poop can resemble a jelly-like substance and is part of the digestive process.

Dr. John Wilkinson from the Mayo Clinic says that normal rectal mucus is often seen on poop. Usually, if the mucus looks like it has tinges of blood in it, then it may indicate that there is an intestinal bleeding. This will often be accompanied by pooping bloody stools.2

When is Mucus in Stool Normal?

There is a lot that the color of your poop can tell about your health. Dr. Benjamin Wedro on MedicineNet says that mucus in stool is normal when there are just small amounts of it. It is also normal to see some mucus covering stool on normal bowel movements.3

When is Mucus in Stool Not Normal?

Mucus in the stool is abnormal when there are large amounts of it, if you start passing mucus regularly during bowel movements, or if the mucus has a distinct color.

White mucus in stool

The journal American Family Physician says that passing white stuff in poop is commonly associated with irritable bowel syndrome.4

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Yellow discharge from the anus

Jelly-like yellow mucus can sometimes be seen on poop. If there is only a little discharge, there probably isn’t anything to worry about. However, as Dr. Minesh Khatri (quoted earlier) says, normal mucus in stool is only seen occasionally and in tiny amounts.

Green mucus in stool

Any kind of gastrointestinal upset that causes diarrhea can make you think that you have green mucus in stool. Dr. Benjamin Wedro says that green-looking poop can occur if food moves through the gut too quickly. Or, eating large amounts of green leafy vegetables can also turn your poop green.3

Brown mucus in stool

Brown mucus in stool may be difficult to recognize because poop is usually brown. However, researchers at the University of Iowa say that brown mucus could indicate bleeding in the digestive system. Mucus on poop can turn brown because it is old blood from the upper gastrointestinal tract.5

Bloody mucus from the anus

Noticing bright red mucus on stool can indicate that you have bleeding of the lower intestines or around the anus. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that passing stool with bloody mucus can indicate a serious condition, especially if you also have abdominal pain.2

What Does Mucus in Stool Mean: 10 Causes of Abnormal Mucus in Bowel Movement

Let’s look in more detail at health conditions that can cause visible signs of mucus in stool that could be symptomatic of an infection or inflammation.

Gastrointestinal infection

An infection in your digestive system can cause varying amounts of mucus in stool.

The American Journal of Physiology reports that Clostridium difficile infections can cause rectal discharge that appears as mucus in poop.6 Doctors from the National Health Service also say that dysentery can cause an infected person to pass stool with bloody mucus.7

Other symptoms of an infection of the intestines include:8

Hemorrhoids

Enlarged hemorrhoids can cause rectal mucus when passing stool along with anal pain and itching. The book Informed Health Online says that in some cases, mucus can come out of the anus when not having a bowel movement.9

Hemorrhoids can also cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Rectal pain
  • Pain when having a bowel movement
  • Swelling or a lump at the anal opening
  • Blood on toilet tissue when wiping

Hemorrhoids can cause anal discomfort that may last a few months. To help soothe hemorrhoid pain, please check out some of my natural remedies for hemorrhoids.

Anal fistula

Discharge from the anus can happen if you have an anal fistula. Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that an anal fistula develops after draining an abscess in the rectum. This can cause jelly-like discharge from the anus or bloody discharge.10

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Passing white stuff in poop can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that IBS affects many people and usually causes a number of digestive complaints. Many patients with IBS notice that they have white stuff in poop along with many of the following symptoms:11

Try taking peppermint oil capsules to get natural relief from the symptoms of IBS. Other natural remedies include drinking aloe vera juice, probiotic supplements, or consider the low-FODMAP diet to soothe digestive upset.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease is chronic inflammation of the digestive system that can cause a number of distressing symptoms. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease. Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info says that bloody mucus along with diarrhea is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease. Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include:12

Ulcerative colitis. Acute or chronic inflammation of the colon can cause ulcers in the digestive system that result in bloody mucus from the anus. Along with passing stool and bloody mucus, ulcerative colitis can result in any of the following symptoms:13

Bowel endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus and can affect the bowel, causing slimy poop. The more common symptoms of endometriosis are painful periods with bleeding between periods.

The World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery reports that bowel endometriosis can cause mucus in the stool. Some other symptoms of bowel endometriosis include:14

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abdominal bloating and excess gas
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Burning sensation when urinating

Proctitis

Another reason for passing anal mucus during a bowel movement is if you have proctitis (inflammation of the rectum) that can be caused by a number of conditions including IBS, IBD, or antibiotics.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that discharge of mucus or pus in stool is a common symptom of proctitis. In some cases, you could notice red mucus in stool because of internal bleeding. Other related symptoms of proctitis include:15

Rectal prolapse

A rectal prolapse occurs when part of the rectum pushes out through the anal opening. A rectal prolapse can happen because of straining to poop or having chronic constipation.

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Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine say that a rectal prolapse can cause pooping slimy mucus when passing stool. The prolapse in the anus can also cause any of the following symptoms:16

  • Bleeding after pooping
  • Pressure in the rectum
  • Itching around the anal opening
  • Noticing a bulge in the anus after coughing or sneezing

Colorectal cancer

Cancer of the rectum or colon can cause you to pass lots of mucus in stool. Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info reports that at the start, cancer that affects the rectum, anus, or colon doesn’t have any symptoms. The first signs of colorectal cancer can be blood mixed in with feces. You may also notice signs of rectal discharge on poop as well as suffering abdominal pains.

Because the first signs of anal cancer can resemble hemorrhoids or anal fissures, you should get any symptoms of rectal bleeding checked out.

You can find out more information about risk factors and symptoms of colorectal cancer in my article on 10 warning signs of bowel (colorectal) cancer you shouldn’t ignore. You can also reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer by following these 11 steps.

Bloody Mucus in Stool: What Does it Mean?

Passing bloody mucus in stool usually means that there is some bleeding in the lower colon or near to the anal opening. Depending on where the bleeding occurs, you may also notice black or dark mucus in stool which would indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Researchers from the University of Iowa report that the causes of blood and mucus in stool can be something as simple as hemorrhoids, or as serious as rectal cancer. This can give the appearance of redcurrant jelly in stool.5

Some of the main reasons for bloody mucus in a bowel movement can include:

Doctors advise that if you start pooping mucus with blood or if you pass black tarry stools, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Other warning symptoms would include passing mucus and blood with abdominal pain.

Anal Mucus in Diarrhea

Mucus in diarrhea is very common if the cause is a bacterial or viral infection of the digestive tract. Because diarrhea causes food to pass through your digestive system quickly, you may notice that diarrhea has yellow or green mucus in it.

The book Medical Microbiology reports that E. coli infections can cause watery diarrhea or diarrhea with mucus, blood, and white blood cells (leukocytes). In some cases, a severe gastrointestinal infection can cause extreme diarrhea with abdominal pain. However, you might just pass mucus with very little stool.17

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If you suffer from bouts of diarrhea after a viral or bacterial infection, it’s important to drink fluids containing electrolytes to prevent the symptoms of dehydration. Also, you can try some natural remedies for relieving diarrhea.

Can Constipation Cause Slimy Stool?

Although constipation is usually associated with not being able to have a bowel movement, constipation can cause you to pass slimy stool.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic report that if feces become impacted in the colon, you might have constipation and slimy discharge from the anus. This results in a symptom called fecal incontinence.18

Also, the National Health Service reports that children with cystic fibrosis can have the body producing thick mucus which results in constipation.19

Taking castor oil is an effective natural laxative for relieving hardened stool. Some other ways to relieve constipation without medication include eating prunes, drinking aloe vera juice, or increasing fiber and fluid intake can all help to cleanse your colon.

Pooping Mucus Only

If you are pooping mucus only, it could mean that you have impacted feces causing constipation. As already mentioned, hard feces lodged in the colon can cause impaction or a blockage. Rectal fluid or discharge will then leak out around the impacted feces causing you to pass mucus instead of stool.

Sometimes, gastrointestinal infections can cause very watery diarrhea that can give you the impression you are only pooping clear mucus.

Mucus in Baby’s Bowel Movement

Noticing different colors of poop in your baby’s diaper can be worrying for many parents. Dr. Jay L. Hoecker, who is an expert on children’s infectious diseases, says that it’s common for breastfed babies to pass stool that looks like yellow or green mucus. This type of baby poop has the consistency of peanut butter.20

You should mention any changes in your baby’s bowel movement to your doctor.

Treatments for Mucus in Stool

Treating symptoms of mucus in stool usually requires addressing the underlying reasons for the rectal discharge. In many cases, a few lifestyle changes can have your bowel movements back to normal without any signs of mucus.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic recommend some ways to help prevent digestive disorders that result in pooping slimy stool.21

  • A healthy diet. Making sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and get enough fiber can help to resolve many digestive issues. It’s also good to avoid processed foods and white bread, rice, or pasta.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Keeping yourself well-hydrated helps to flush toxins from your body and lubricate your digestive system.
  • Take probiotics. Boosting the number of healthy bacteria in your gut can help to avoid digestion problems and reduce symptoms of slimy poop.
  • Keep active. Being physically active has many health benefits like boosting your immune system and preventing constipation.

If hemorrhoids or anal fistulas are causing mucus-like anal discharge, there are some steps you can take to prevent irritation. Doctors specializing in colon issues say that if you have anal leakage or rectal mucous discharge, you can try the following to relieve symptoms of anal discomfort:22

  • Dampen some cotton wool with cool water and use to clean slimy mucus from the anus. Wash your hands before and afterward.
  • If anal discharge leaks between bowel movements, you could plug your anus with some cotton wool to prevent rectal discharge irritating the skin.

When to See a Doctor

Although it’s normal for small amounts of jelly-like mucus to be on stool, there should not be so much mucus that is easily noticeable.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise that if you start to notice excessive mucus in stool or you see white stuff in poop, you should speak to your doctor about it. Also, any changes to your bowel habits or regularly pooping mucus with diarrhea could indicate a gastrointestinal infection or inflammation that needs a medical checkup.2

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. WebMD. Is it normal to see mucus in your poop?
  2. MayoClinic. Mucus in stool: A concern?
  3. MedicineNet. Stool color changes.
  4. Am Fam Physician.2003 May 15;67(10):2157-2162.
  5. UIHC. Stool with blood or mucus.
  6. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 Mar 15; 308(6): G510–G524.
  7. NHS. Dysentery.
  8. MayoClinic. C. difficile infection.
  9. NCBI. Enlarged hemorrhoids.
  10. HealthHarvard. Anal disorders.
  11. MayoClinic. Irritable bowel syndrome.
  12. PatientInfo. Crohn’s disease.
  13. eMedicineHealth. Ulcerative colitis.
  14. World J Gastrointest Surg. 2011 Mar 27; 3(3): 31–38.
  15. NIDDK. Symptoms & causes of proctitis.
  16. JohnHopkins. Rectal prolapse.
  17. NCBI. Escherichia coli in diarrheal disease.
  18. ClevelandClinic. Stool changes.
  19. NHSDirect. Constipation.
  20. MayoClinic. Is this normal for baby poop?
  21. ClevelandClinic. Stomach problems?
  22. ACPGBI. Pruritus ani (itchy bottom).
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