Sometimes, pooping’s no prob — other times sittin’ on the toilet can feel like torture.
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
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
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
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.
5. Eczema or psoriasis
- rash around anus
- painful pooping
- inflamed anal area
- warts near your anus
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
7. Certain STIs
STIs like chlamydia and syphilis can be transmitted via anal sex without a barrier method and cause bacterial infections. Symptoms include:
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
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:
10. IBD or IBS
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
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.
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
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
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.