Bowel movements are a natural routine process and certainly shouldn’t be painful. If you routinely experience pain after pooping, you may need to check for an underlying problem that’s causing you all this unwarranted trouble.
Anal fissures are like cuts or tears or even ulcers or open sores in the anus, which can be quite excruciating. In some cases, you may even see a little blood in the bowel movement. The pain is very sharp during the bowel movement, and a deeper more burning sensation lasts hours after. This may be a result of constipation. Teenagers and women who have just had a baby are known to have this problem.1
When the herpes virus strikes the anus, it causes a crack in the skin that can last for many days. Because the area is sore, it can also cause the bowel movement to burn. Medication to treat the condition may be needed, and check-ups to confirm if you have indeed caught the virus. This inflammation of the rectum is called herpes proctitis.2
An abscess or fistula typically begins harmlessly as a mild ache but escalates to more severe pain. You may be able to feel a swelling and tenderness on the inside and just outside on the sides of the anus. An abscess will need to be removed by a trained doctor to get rid of the burning and pain. An anal abscess is usually filled with pus and infected, and in 90% of all cases, due to acute infection of the glands on the inside of the anus. Clogged glands and bacterial or fecal contamination of a cavity in the tissue of the anus causes this painful condition. You may have a fever and find the skin is reddish in the perianal region, besides experiencing the anorectal pain you’re trying to pin down.3
Swollen and weakened rectal veins result in hemorrhoids which result in a burning sensation in the area, often accompanied by itching, and sometimes by rectal bleeding after you pass a bowel movement. The pain often lingers through the day and isn’t restricted only to when you are passing a movement. Those with chronic constipation or diarrhea are more likely to develop this problem.4
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Certain sexually transmitted diseases like Gonorrhea result in a burning feeling in the anus making bowel movements painful. Also watch out for painful urination, white/green/yellow discharge from the penis(or unsual vaginal discharge in women)and bleeding between periods in women.5 Chlamydia which is usually linked to a burning sensation while urinating, can also cause rectal pain or burning when the rectum gets infected. This could be because of an infection from the vagina being passed on here in women, or through being the recipient of anal sex.6 Herpes or Syphilis may also cause the anal canal to be damaged, resulting in a burning or painful bowel movement.7
Eating Spicy Food
Believe it or not, spicy food can be a real pain in the butt! The capsaicin in it causes a burning sensation in the gastrointestinal tract, increased rectal perception that makes you more sensitive in the region, as well as abdominal burning. As little as three consecutive days of having spicy food can bring this on.8 So if you have a penchant for ordering “extra hot” or chili-doused foods, it may be a good idea to go easy on the heat for a bit and see if that helps your pain.
Poor Hygiene Or Too Much Hygiene
If you find the anus is unusually itchy it may even result in a burning sensation in the region. If this is the case, your skin which is already sensitive could hurt as the burning sensation gets worse when you pass a bowel movement and the skin stretches. Be sure to clean the area properly so it is nice and dry and germ-free. Avoid infections or bacteria from collecting which could trigger itchiness or burning, and bring on a painful feeling when you pass a movement. As the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons point out, properly cleaning away stool from the perianal area can provide immediate relief from symptoms for some people.However, too much cleaning can be just as bad. Using strong soaps and scented cleansers in the area can cause chronic skin irritation and the burning also known as Pruritus ani.9
IBD Or Crohn’s Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) could cause painful bowel movements and a burning sensation in the region. You may also find mucus in the stool, or have diarrhea or be constipated. Rectal bleeding may also occur.10 Perianal Crohn’s Disease can also cause a burning feeling in the area due to the presence of perianal fistulae.11
Should You See A Doctor?
It’s important to know which problems you can handle on your own with some simple lifestyle tweaks (like toning down the spice in your food) and which ones may need professional medical attention. So here’s a rundown of causes of painful bowel movements for which you should see a doctor:
- If you have hemorrhoids or piles, you may need medical treatment. Anal fissures, which are quite similar in symptoms heal themselves 90 percent of the time12, but get yourself checked to be sure.13
- If you have a sexually transmitted disease, you may need lab tests to confirm the condition, and appropriate medication will need to be taken. Left untreated, it could result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or cause difficulty with conceiving if it spreads.14
- If you are pregnant, you should get your STD treated right away because of the risk of causing a premature birth. Certain infections like chlamydia can be passed on to the unborn child and result in pneumonia or eye infections when the baby is born.15
- For herpes proctitis, treatment is similar to that of genital herpes and could require you to take medication to nip the infection in the bud, and to prevent you from passing it on to others during sexual intercourse.16
- It goes without saying that for intestinal disorders like IBD or Crohn’s disease, you should seek medical care at the earliest to avoid inflammation from building up.
|↑1, ↑7, ↑13||Anal Fissure. NHS.|
|↑2, ↑16||Proctitis, Proctocolitis, and Enteritis. CDC.|
|↑3||Abscess and Fistula Expanded Information. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.|
|↑4||Alternatives in the treatment of hemorrhoidal disease. Europe PMC.|
|↑5, ↑14||Gonorrhea. CDC.|
|↑6, ↑15||Chlamydia. CDC.|
|↑8||Gonlachanvit, S., A. Mahayosnond, and P. Kullavanijaya. “Effects of chili on postprandial gastrointestinal symptoms in diarrhoea predominant irritable bowel syndrome: evidence for capsaicin‐sensitive visceral nociception hypersensitivity.” Neurogastroenterology & Motility 21, no. 1 (2009): 23-32.|
|↑9||Pruritis Ani Expanded Version. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.|
|↑10||Proctitis. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑11||Safar, Bashar, and Dana Sands. “Perianal Crohn’s disease.” Clinics in colon and rectal surgery 20, no. 04 (2007): 282-293.|
|↑12||Villalba, Herman, Sabrina Villalba, and Maher A. Abbas. “Anal fissure: a common cause of anal pain.” Perm J 11, no. 4 (2007): 62-65.|