Sometimes, pooping’s no prob — other times sittin’ on the toilet can feel like torture.
So, why exactly does it hurt to poop?
Painful poop culprits can include:
- anal fissures
- eczema or psoriasis
- anal abscess
- IBD or IBS
- food intolerance or sensitivities
- proctitis or anusitis
- anal or rectal cancer
If things aren’t going so smoothly when you try to take a doody, don’t stress just yet: The pain may only be temporary. Diet, day-to-day activities, and your emotions can all play a role in your bowel movements.
If your turds hurt on an ongoing basis, something more serious may be happening. With some detective work (and a call with your doctor), you can pinpoint the cause, treat the concern, and finally check No. 2 off your to-do list.
Anyone who can’t make themselves poop knows the pain of no-show BMs.
Medically speaking, constipation is what happens when you poop less than three times a week. And when you do finally manage, it’s usually a little more work than usual. It can happen because of dehydration, your diet, or various medical conditions.
Common symptoms include:
- hard, dry, or chunky stool
- pain in your anus or gut while you poop
- feeling like you still need to go after you just pooped
- bloating or cramping in your back or lower gut
- feeling a blockage in your intestines
To get the bada boom back in your bowels:
- Drink lots of water (at least 64 ounces a day).
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat plenty of fiber. (Fresh veggies, anyone?)
- Eat probiotic-rich foods (think pickles, kefir, or kimchi).
- Reduce constipation-causing foods like meat and dairy.
- Get enough exercise (at least 30 minutes a day).
- When you gotta go, go! Don’t wait til your stool hardens.
- Under your doctor’s guidance, try laxatives as a last resort.
Diarrhea is like constipation’s equally evil opposite.
When your bowel movements get thin and watery, ding, ding, ding: You have diarrhea. It doesn’t always make pooping hurt, but it can — especially when you wipe a lot, which can make things a little tender and sore.
It can happen due to some expired food, certain medical conditions, or unseemly bacteria. Symptoms include:
- stomach pain or cramps
- rectal pain or burning when pooping
- losing excess fluid
- blood in stool
- needing to poop often
- large stool volume
Diarrhea treatment usually calls for rehydration — Here are some additional tips:
- If you’re dehydrated you’re missing electrolytes, so stock up on sports drinks.
- Wash your hands thoroughly (sing “Happy Birthday” twice!) before and after you eat.
- Wash, cook, and store your food safely. If it seems a little suss, do yourself a favor and skip it.
- Don’t drink nonpotable water.
- Ask your doc about taking antibiotics before visiting places with unfamiliar food.
- In severe cases, an intravenous (IV) line or antibiotics might be needed from your doc.
People often associate hemorrhoids with older folks or pregnant peeps, but really, anyone can experience piles.
Hemorrhoids happen when your veins in your anus or rectum swell up. You might not notice internal hemorrhoids, but external ones can cause a lot of pain and other probs.
They can happen due to diet, a lack of exercise, or hereditary factors. Symptoms include:
- pain while pooping
- anal itching or pain
- lumps near your anus
- anal leakage
- blood on your TP
Treatments and preventive measures include:
- taking 10-minute daily warm baths
- using over-the-counter topical hemorrhoid creams
- eating more fiber
- keeping your anus clean
- using softer TP
- applying a cold compress
- taking ibuprofen or naproxen
- in serious cases, surgery
4. Anal fissures
Anal fissures are pretty much as unpleasant as they sound. They’re basically tiny cuts that happen when your anus skin cracks (and often bleeds). They can happen due to stretching of the lining of your anus from bowel movements, penetration, or other causes.
- a torn area near your anus
- skin outgrowth around the tear
- stinging or intense pain when pooping
- blood in poop or on TP
- anal itchiness
- burning sensation around anus
The good news: They usually aren’t too serious and go away on their own in about a month.
In the meantime, treatments include:
- taking stool softeners
- staying hydrated
- eating enough fiber
- taking sits baths
- applying hydrocortisone cream
- using lidocaine or other pain-relief ointments
5. Eczema or psoriasis
Some chronic skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis, can wreak havoc on the area around your anus. Symptoms include:
- rash around anus
- painful pooping
- inflamed anal area
- warts near your anus
Your eczema or psoriasis treatment plan:
According to a 2014 research review, treating anal eczema is particularly challenging. If you have a skin condition around your anal area, you should always chat with your doctor first.
Other treatment with a doc’s help might include:
- steroid cream
6. Anal abscess
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, an anal abscess happens when one of your many glands in your anus becomes clogged. When it happens, you might experience:
- anal pain or discomfort
- night sweats
- constipation or painful pooping
- anal inflammation
- painful lump near your anus
- lower abdomen pain
- pus drainage near anus
Talk with your doctor about the right treatment for you:
Anal abscesses usually don’t go away on their own, so they’ll typically require surgical drainage or other medical intervention.
7. Certain STIs
STIs like chlamydia and syphilis can be transmitted via anal sex without a barrier method and cause bacterial infections. Symptoms include:
- pain when pooping
- rectal swelling
- burning sensation when peeing
- genital discharge
- pain during sex
Treatments and prevention tips include:
- antibiotics like azithromycin or doxycycline
- penicillin injections (for severe syphilis)
- sexual abstinence during treatment (to protect others)
- using a barrier method during sexual activity (including oral or anal)
- getting tested for STIs regularly
Psst, if you’re struggling to talk about your STI status with your partner, here’s how to have those tough convos.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that can cause warts to grow near your anus. Symptoms include:
- pain while pooping
- raw or stinging sensation around anus
- visible warts without any pain or discomfort
Don’t ignore this ish and call a doc:
Get it checked out, even if you’re *pretty sure* it’s not HPV. If untreated, HPV can cause anal and cervical cancer. While it can never be fully cured, your doctor can use laser or cryotherapy to remove warts.
Preventive measures for HPV include:
- getting the HPV vaccine if you’re under 45, according to the FDA
- using barrier protection (like condoms) when you have sex
- getting regular Pap smears and STI screenings
Endometriosis happens when uterine lining (aka your endometrium) grows outside your uterus. The pesky lining can then attach to your colon and cause pain, irritation or scar tissue formation.
According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, other common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- painful periods
- lower ab or back pain before period
- heavy periods
- pain during or after sex
- pain meds like ibuprofen
- hormone therapy
- birth control (like Depo-Provera injections)
- laser surgery to remove affected tissue
- surgical removal of uterus, cervix or ovaries
10. IBD or IBS
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes conditions that involve digestive tract inflammation like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- bloody diarrhea
- stomach pain or discomfort
- unexplained weight loss
Peeps with Crohn’s disease can have different symptoms, like abdominal pain targeting their lower right side or diarrhea without blood.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has similar side effects, but is a different condition that targets your large intestine (including your colon). Symptoms of IBS can include:
- abdominal pain or cramping
- diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of the two
- hard stool
- bloating and gas
- food intolerances trigger these symptoms
If you think you have a form of IBD or IBS, talk with your doctor:
Common treatments to help manage IBD symptoms include:
- taking prednisone to suppress your immune system and reduce inflammation
- long-term corticosteroid treatment
- medications called immunomodulatory that reduce your immune system’s reaction in your gut
Treatments to help manage IBS symptoms include:
- taking probiotics
- limiting caffeine and alcohol
- taking medications to help control muscle spasms, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or pain
- avoiding spicy or deep-fried foods that trigger IBS symptoms
- eating a diet with less dairy and sugars
11. Food intolerance or sensitivities
Anyone with a food intolerance or sensitivity has to laugh when nay-sayers try to poo-poo them. Much more than a fad, food intolerances or sensitivities can cause serious concerns, including diarrhea or pain when pooping.
Common concerns include lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity or intolerance. If you’re unsure whether you’re sensitive to certain foods, talk with your doctor or a nutritionist.
To test for food intolerance or sensitivity, your doctor might recommend:
- an elimination diet to pinpoint the source
- allergy testing
- stopping or limiting the triggering food from your diet
12. Proctitis or anusitis
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, proctitis refers to rectal inflammation. Anusitis refers to anal inflammation. Though these conditions have symptoms in common with hemorrhoids, there’s no physical lump. Instead, symptoms include:
- pain or burning when pooping
- anal itchiness or pain
- rectal bleeding
- unusual discharge
- pelvic pressure or pain
Treatment for proctitis or anusitis depends on the cause:
If you think you might have either condition, talk with your doctor. Common causes of anusitis or proctitis include:
- ulcerative colitis
- certain meds
- colon infections
- a diet with a lot of citrus, coffee, soda, alcohol, or spices
13. Anal or rectal cancer
Before you start panic-tweeting about having cancer, hear us out: It’s 👏 very 👏 unlikely 👏 that anal or rectal cancer is the cause of your painful poops.
Since it’s a small possibility, though, keep in mind that cancer symptoms can include:
- sudden, abnormal changes in poop shape or color
- small, skinny stool
- blood in poop or on TP
- new or strange lumps near anus that hurt with applied pressure
- anal itchiness
- unusual anal discharge
- frequent constipation or diarrhea
- feeling unusually exhausted
- having a lot of gas or bloating
- losing lots of weight
- constant pain or cramps in your abdomen
While a rare cause of painful pooping, if you think you might have anal or rectal cancer, call your doctor:
Cancer treatments include:
- chemotherapy injections or pills
- surgery to remove tumors and affected tissues
- regorafenib, according to the National Cancer Institute
Early treatment can halt cancer from transmitting to other areas of your body and prevent severe complications.
Some concerns like hemorrhoids or constipation often go away on their own. And not to be a party pooper on home remedies, but you gotta call the doc if things don’t clear up. Always seek expert help if you experience:
- pain or bleeding lasting for more than a week
- fever or unusual fatigue
- unusual bleeding or discharge
- pain or discomfort after sex
- intense ab or back pain and cramps
- newly formed lumps by your anus
To support smooth and pain-free poops next time you hop on the porcelain throne, try the following tips:
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration (and don’t forget those electrolytes).
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fiber (fruit, veggies, and oats FTW).
- Get plenty of exercise to keep those bowels moving and grooving (at least 30 minutes a day).
To stop diarrhea or ease painful poops in a pinch, doctors sometimes recommend the BRAT diet. Until your symptoms subside, consider sticking to Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast (BRAT) — all of which are easy on your tummy.