Healthy Living

What Causes Bleeding When I Poop (Rectal Bleeding) & Should I See a Doctor?

Seeing blood on toilet paper after wiping or spotting blood in your stool after a bowel movement is common. Symptoms usually develop quickly, and most causes such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures are treatable and not serious. But rectal bleeding can be a symptom of a serious disease, such as colorectal cancer. Find out what you rectal bleeding symptoms mean, possible causes, home remedies, treatments, and when you need to see a doctor.

Seeing blood after you poop? Sounds like you are experiencing rectal bleeding, which can have a lot of different possible causes. Rectal bleeding is another way of saying blood is leaking from somewhere in the colon, rectum, or anal canal. Rectal bleeding is often unpleasant and painful.

10 Likely Causes Behind Why You’re Seeing Blood When You Poop.

The different shapes and colors of your stool can tell you something about your health.

In this article, we cover 10 possible causes of why your wiping blood when you poop, what other symptoms to keep an eye out for, and when its seriously time to go in and see a doctor about your anal bleeding.

A whole spectrum of health conditions and factors can trigger or worsen rectal bleeding.

10 Common Causes Behind Blood After Wiping:

1. Hemorrhoids (piles)

Hemorrhoids are a common, painful, but luckily a very treatable cause behind why you’re wiping blood after you poop.

Hemorrhoids happen when very soft and sensitive blood vessels which line the lowest parts of the rectum and the anus become inflamed. Hemorrhoids can develop on the inside or outside of the anal canal. They can look like little tiny bumps that pop out and occasionally bleed when you have a sudden urge to poop or while aggressively wiping.

Hemorrhoids are a common cause of anal bleeding, but luckily very curable and preventable.

Hemorrhoids can impact anyone of any age but are associated with a few risk factors, including:

  • Heavyweight lifting and squat training
  • chronic constipation and straining
  • pregnancy
  • Alcohol
  • chronic diarrhea
  • Forcing and straining bowel movements
  • sitting on the toilet for too long
  • obesity and significant weight gain
  • low fiber or unbalanced diet
  • aging
  • Certain psychedelic drugs (Such as LSD)

Treatment Options:

Be more careful about what you eat. They will heal up faster by eating a balanced, high-fiber diet. In the bathroom, try and stop wiping so hard. Try using a baday or shower off instead of wiping, or moist bathroom wipes.

Also taking warm baths frequently, using over-the-counter creams, stool softeners, and suppositories with hydrocortisone can be very helpful.

When to see a doctor

If and when less invasive treatments don’t help your hemorrhoids decrease in size, you can see a doctor who will perform a very quick and minor surgery to remove or restrict blood to the hemorrhoids.

  1. Anal Fissures

When the sensitive and soft tissues lining the anus, colon, or rectum are torn, it is called a fissure. Fissures are known for being very painful and causing rectal bleeding.

Studies have shown fissures can be healed with a high-fiber diet, stool softeners, and regular warm baths. With more serious fissures, prescription cream or surgery may be required.

  1. Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis is when abnormal small pockets called diverticula to form on the walls of the colon. The small pockets grow around a weakness in the organ’s muscular layers. Having these little pockets or diverticula are extremely common, and usually, there is no treatment or any symptoms even cause by the abnormal formations. They can, however, become infected, which is often painful and cause rectal bleeding that occurs in a moderate to rush of blood that flows for just a few seconds. This can be treated with surgery in more severe cases, or you may be able to thwart the condition with antibiotics. 

  1. Fistulas

A fistula, which is technically an ‘abormal’ connection between two organs, is what happens when an abnormal opening or pocket grows and broadens between two neighboring organs. Fistulas can occur during natural childbirth. Fistulas can appear between the anus and rectum, or between the anus and skin. Fistulas often discharge blood and a white fluid.

Anal fistulas can be handled with antibiotics, but there’s a chance they require surgery if they progress and expand beyond natural bodily repair. The goal is to be able to treat fistulas successfully, without compromising fecal continence.

  1. Proctitis, Colitis, or Gastroenteritis

When the soft tissues that make up the rectum become inflamed, often resulting in pain and bleeding, this is known as proctitis. Colitis is when the tissues lining the inside of the colon become inflamed and may cause ulcers, or open, progressive sores that lead to butt bleeding.

Common causes of proctitis and colitis include but are not limited to:

  • Infections
  • Conditions associated with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease
  • Anal intercourse
  • Restricted blood flow to the colon or rectum
  • Certain medications, such as blood thinners
  • Radiation or chemotherapy treatment
  • A blockage in the lower colon or rectum tract
A severe blockage in the digestive tract can be very dangerous. Seek Medical attention immediately.

Depending on the causes and severity, treatments range from antibiotics to surgery.

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the colon and stomach which causes diarrhea that may contain mucus and spots of blood. It is induced by a bacterial or viral infection, and though it typically does not cause blood wiping, it may cause noticeably bloody diarrhea.

Treatment for gastroenteritis does not involve any surgery. It’s mostly about getting fluids, rest, and then depending on the cause, it may mean specific antibiotics or antivirals.

Remember Antibiotic use eliminates both good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract, so you’ll need to replenish with probiotics and fiber.
  1. Rectal Prolapse

When rectal tissues weaken over time, this can cause a portion of the rectum to push forward or bulge outside of the anus and sag, usually resulting in pain and, almost always, some bleeding and red skid marks.

Prolapse is actually pretty common for older adults and is undeniably seen more in the elderly than the young crowd. People with prolapse may need surgery to correct it in order to fully alleviate the chronic pain.

  1. Internal bleeding

A significant injury to any of the gastrointestinal organs can lead to internal bleeding that then passes out and through the rectum. There are several severe gastrointestinal diseases can cause internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding almost always requires hospitalization and surgery.

When to see a doctor

Occasional to mild rectal bleeding is actually quite common among the typical adult population, and will often not need medical attention or treatment.

  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

When you have unprotected anal sex, a wide range of viral and bacterias end up floating around your butt. All forms of anal sex, unprotected or not, can cause inflammation of the anus and rectum and possible infection. And if your anus is inflamed, you are more likely to bleed during your next trip to the toilet.

Treatment for STIs typically involves an antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal medication, but the choice of treatment is reliant upon the cause being bacterial,  fungal, or viral.

  1. Polyps

Polyps are noncancerous, abnormal growths anywhere in and around the body. When polyps decide to develop on the lining of the rectum or colon they can be very irritating, cause inflammation, and be accompanied by a small amount of bleeding.

If you have polyps, doctors will often take biopsies polyps so they can be tested for signs of cancer. This will greatly lower the risk of them becoming dangerously cancerous and potentially incurable down the line.

It is worth checking up on polyps regularly since colon and rectal cancer do develop from polyps that start out benign.
  1. Rectal or colon cancer

As many as 48 % of people with colorectal cancer have experienced rectal bleeding, accompanied by inflammation and irritation. Colon cancer is a very slow moving form of cancer, so it is often treatable if caught early. Rectal cancer, though much more uncommon that colon cancer, is also usually curable if detected and treated in the beginning.

All cases of gastrointestinal cancer require treatment. Treatment typically involves needing a mix of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

When to worry about a more serious underlying condition:

Severe, chronic, or ‘crying on the toilet’ painful rectal bleeding occurs for more than 2-3 weeks, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. You must seek out formal medical attention immediately if this is the case.

People often first notice rectal bleeding when they see streaks or strips of blood in their stool, while wiping, or in the toilet bowl.  Others find blood in their underwear, or they notice the toilet water looks reddish-pink after using the bathroom. Other cases of rectal bleeding cause extremely nasty smelling, dark, tarry stool mixed with very dark red to black blood.

What is Considered Mild to Severe Chronic Rectal Bleeding, and What Signs to look for to know you schedule an appointment to see a doctor:

  • Chronic bleeding in adults that lasts longer than 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Children with any form of bloody stool or rectal bleeding
  • Chronic bleeding accompanied by a fever
  • simultaneous lumps in the abdomen that may be a sign of hernias
  • Poop that is thinner, longer, or softer than average for at least three weeks or longer.
  • Long bouts of constipation or drastic changes in habitual bowel movements
  • Extremely tender and swollen abdomen
  • Sharp pain in the abdomen
  • uncontrolled leakage from the anus
  • chronic bleeding with nausea or vomiting
  • fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
A clear colon vs. one experiencing severe constipation and discomfort.

Symptoms paired with rectal bleeding that mean you should seek emergency care ASAP :

  • Blood running from the eyes, ears, or nose
  • Coughing up blood or vomiting blood or black
  • Any unexplained, sharp pain in the abdomen
  • Any form of bleeding where blood appears to be the color of black.
  • Bloody diarrhea that has nothing to do with a diagnosed abdominal condition or recent medical treatment
  • Severe lower back pain

Light Blood vs. Dark Blood vs. Black Blood When Wiping

Generally, wiping and see darker red blood is an indication of bleeding in the small bowel or upper colon tract, while bright red blood means bleeding in the lower colon or rectum. If you’ve ever encountered blood so dark it looks black, it’s usually a sign of bleeding in the stomach or other organs farther up in the digestive system. Seek medical attention immediately.

How to Test and Diagnose Underlying Conditions

If your rectal bleeding is linked to existing medical condition, a doctor will probably want to talk with you about ways to manage, reduce, and track your symptoms. 

When the cause of rectal bleeding is unknown, a doctor may ask questions about personal medical history and symptoms. A  doctor will also work out if further testing is required, depending on the level of severity of your condition.

A doctor may also make a referral to a gastrointestinal or colorectal specialist.

Feces specimen are collected by internists and specialist and sent out to labs for further testing.

Rectal Bleeding Testa done by a general practitioner to address rectal bleeding include:

Gastroenterologist and other specialists may perform additional tests that could include:

  • A colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.  This is where a tube fitted with a camera is inserted into the anus and up farther into the digestive tract to examine tissues.
  • A computed tomography or CT scan providing a 3-D image map of the problem area.
  • A removal of a small tissue or Biopsy sample may be taken for further examination and testing

How to Stop Anal Bleeding and Other Prevention Tips

There is no proven way to avoid all minor case of anal bleeding, but just by knowing about what are common factors that worsen or trigger rectal bleeding can be extremely beneficial.

Tips for preventing and stopping rectal, colon and anal bleeding include:

  • Eat a balanced diet high in fiber or supplement your diet with fiber pills
  • Drink more water and always stay hydrated.
  • Do not sit on the toilet for too long or impersonate the incredible hulk during bathroom visits.
  • Wipe your butt gently avoid going to the bathroom.
  • Replace hard, tough paper with soft, wet wipes.
  • Addressing chronic or excessive diarrhea with over-the-counter medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate.
  • Wear a condom during sex and anal sex
  • For chronic constipation, you may want to try over-the-counter stool softeners, which are available online or in pharmacies.
  • Try not to lift heavily or do heavy squat training.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight or try and lose excess weight.
  • Take long, warm baths nightly without fragrant bath products frequently can help.
  • Avoid overusing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs
  • Avoid certain foods. Do not eat spicy, creamy, fatty, rich, or any heavily processed or refined foods.
  • Get the abnormal growths in and around your butt checked out by a doctor to be safe.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about gastrointestinal symptoms that may be a sign of underlying conditions, such abnormal growths, infections, or possible digestive conditions.

If you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor about rectal bleeding.

When Should You Be Worried About Rectal Bleeding?

The occasional lighter red blood drop here or there on your toilet paper in the toilet, or in your poop is nothing to freak out about, but something worth keeping an eye on. You may want to re-evaluate your diet as well as stress-coping mechanisms.

Many people often ignore rectal bleeding problems because they are embarrassed to tell their doctor, but remember that heavy or chronic bleeding from below can trigger severe blood loss or may be a sign of a dangerous underlying condition.

Don’t be Embarrassed. You Only Have one Bum and You (Should) Use it Daily.

Seek out formal medical attention when your butt bleeding issue is chronic or you’re forming noticeably balloon-like growths around the anus. Talk to a healthcare professional about what home remedies you have tried and worked, and what you found to be a waste. 

When Butt Bleeding Really Means You Need Immediate Medical Attention:

If you go to the bathroom and the blood you are wiping or seeing in the toilet is very dark and black looking, you must seek medical attention ASAP.  This type of rectal bleeding for more than a few minutes combined with other symptoms, such as severe pain, fever, weakness, vomiting, or coughing up blood could be life-threatening and needs immediate medical intervention.

You may also like:

That sudden urge to poop your pants after eating and what you can do about it