Under normal circumstances, pooping feels so good. There’s even a name for the sensation: “poo-phoria.” Other times, you may dread your daily deuce because it hurts your booty. What gives?
Your body (especially your digestive system) is complex, so there are several factors that may contribute to painful poops. Googling any type of ailment can make you think your life is coming to an end—don’t panic though (stress can add to your tummy troubles).
In this article, you’ll learn seven common causes of painful bowel movements, how to manage the symptoms, and when it’s time to call a doctor.
Straining on the toilet can trigger abdominal pain, back pain, and of course, anal pain. If you poop less than three times a week, you’re considered constipated. However, your colon can get temporarily clogged from medications, dehydration, or a lack of fiber.
Symptoms of constipation include chunky, dry, or hard stool, cramping, and a sense that everything didn’t come out.
What to do: For fast results, take an over-the-counter laxative or stool softener. Just make sure you drink plenty of water since dehydration is a side effect of these medications. Popping a probiotic supplement may also do the trick.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anal area, and when they flare up your bowel movements can be brutal. They can occur inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or ontop of the anal skin (external hemorrhoids). In both cases, you may experience itching, blood when wiping, and pain while pooping.
What to do: Ditch toilet paper and use medicated wet wipes to sooth the skin and reduce swelling. You can also apply a topical cream or ointment, such as Preparation H. If you have a severe case of hemorrhoids that doesn’t go away in a matter of weeks, surgery may be needed to remove them.
3. Anal Fissures
Anal fissures are small tears in your b-hole. These can be caused by straining during bowel movements, dry skin, or (without getting graphic), penetration.
Symptoms of anal fissures can be mild, such as itchiness or a burning sensation when you pass stool. But they can also cause more serious problems like anal bleeding.
What to do: Anal fissures usually heal on their own within a few weeks, but in the meantime you can take stool softeners to reduce the strain when you poop. Applying hydrocortisone cream to your bum can ease the irritation.
4. Skin Conditions
The skin inside and around your butt hole is super sensitive, so even a minor skin condition can cause serious pain when you poop. Here are a few common conditions that can develop near the anus:
Eczema: A common inflammatory condition that causes a rash around the anus.
Psoriasis: A chronic condition that causes the anus to develop a rash that’s red, itchy, scaly, or inflamed.
Proctitis: Inflammation of the rectal lining. According to Mayo Clinic, this can be caused by inflammatory bowel disease, STDs, or radiation therapy.
Pruritis Ani: Also called “Polished Anus Syndrome (PAS)” this is when the anus gets irritated from aggressive wiping—often to the point of bleeding.
What to do: If you suspect a skin condition is causing your painful poops, it’s best to visit a doctor who can run the proper tests. Depending on the diagnosis, they may prescribe antibiotics or a topical cream.
5. IBS or IBD
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive health condition that affetst the large intestine. Symptoms include cramping, bloating, frequent diarrhea, food intolerances, and the sudden urge to poop after eating.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to conditions that inflame the digestive tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. People with IBD may experience symptoms similar to those of IBS, in addition to bloody diarrhea and unexplained weight loss.
What to do: Try to avoid foods that trigger your symptoms, whether that’s spicy food, gluten, or dairy. You can also try over-the-counter medications to ease your tummy troubles. If you can’t get things under control by yourself, talk to a gastroenterologist about treatment options.
6. Rectal or Anal Cancer
This is rare, but anal or rectal cancer can cause pain when you poop. Before you eneter full panic mode, keep in mind that cancer is usually accompanied by other symptoms like bloody poop, chronic fatigue, unintentional weight loss, and sudden changes in the color or shape of your poop (small, skinny stool is a red flag).
7. Sexually Transmitted Infections
Certain STIs can infect your butt, causing pain when you poop. A common one is human papillomavirus (HPV), which may warts to grow around the anal area. Syphilis and chlamydia can also be transmitted during anal sex. Symptoms include rectal swelling, pain during intercourse, and discharge.
What to do: In terms of prevention, wrap it up when you’re with your partner and get tested regularly. If you think you were exposed to an STI, don’t ignore it—talk to a healthcare professional so you can get the proper treatment.
You Deserve Pain-Free Poops
We’re not doctors, but we know firsthand that wiping your ass with sandy two-ply is a fast path to painful poops. No matter what’s causing your sore bum, swapping TP for flushable wipes (or better yet, a bidet attachment) will help you heal faster and stay fresh in the process.