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How the bowels and anus work

To understand constipation, it helps to know how the lower part of the gut works.

The colon

The colon (large bowel) is the lower part of the gut. It is more than 1 metre long. As food moves through the colon it absorbs water and forms waste products (faeces). This ensures that faeces are fairly solid and the body does not waste water. The colon may absorb 1 litre of fluid a day.
The colon contains lots of helpful bacteria that break down food residues (turning some of them into wind) and manufacturing some vitamins.

The muscles of the colon gently contract and relax all the time, rolling the waste matter about like clothes in a washing machine and pushing the faeces towards the rectum, which is the last section of the bowel before the anus (back passage). Several times a day, usually after meals, the colon makes some big muscular contractions to dump the faecal material in the rectum beyond it.  By the time the faeces reach the rectum they are almost solid because most of the water has been absorbed. The hard and dry faeces of constipation occur when the colon absorbs too much water. This happens because its muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the faeces to move through it more slowly.

The rectum and anal canal

The large bowel (colon) leads into the last part of the gut, which is called the rectum. It is about 12–15 cm long. The final 3 cm of the gut is called the anal canal.
When faeces arrive in the rectum, it sends a message to the nerve centres in the spinal cord, and these send a message to the sphincter muscles of the anal canal, making them relax to open the anus. If it is inconvenient for us to have our bowels open, the brain sends a message to the spinal cord to prevent the ‘open anus’ message being sent. We are not aware of this until the rectum becomes very full, when we have to make a conscious effort to keep the anus closed.
When we allow the anus to open, the muscles in the wall of the large bowel and rectum contract to push the faeces out. The wall of the anal canal is very muscular. The muscles keep the anus closed, except when faeces are passed.
  • The innermost ring of muscle of the anal canal is called the ‘internal sphincter’. This muscle, which is not under our conscious control,  maintains a resting pressure in our anal canal.
  • The outermost ring of muscle of the anus is called the ‘external sphincter’.  It also forms the pelvic floor eventually. This muscle is more like the sort of muscle that we have in our arms and legs, and we are able to control it (until the urge to pass faeces becomes overwhelming).

It is obvious that in babies the system of nerve messages that keep the anus shut is not in place – babies pass faeces as soon as the rectum fills. After about 18 months of age, the system develops, but in some children this can take a long time.

A network of small veins lies under the lining of the anal canal. These veins form a soft, spongy pad that acts as an extra seal to keep the canal closed until you go to the lavatory. The spongy pads can become swollen. When this happens they are called piles (haemorrhoids).

Mucus secretion

The lining of the gut is very slimy (so that faeces can pass along easily); the extra seal stops the slime (mucus) from leaking out. Passage of mucus or slime from the bowel can be a normal phenomenon, but the amount varies between individuals and is increased in certain conditions. The commonest reason for increased mucus is irritable bowel syndrome but it can also be increased in inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) as well as some bowel tumours.

Written by: Mr Andrew Ramwell
Edited by: Mr Andrew Ramwell
Last updated: Thursday, November 7th 2013


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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 16/04/2019 at 01:41

Certainly given me more understanding, but sadly, I'm having a hard time..... I'm not sure if this will help me get better, but I have been given more info here than my GP gave me. I've had pelvic floor surgery, now I'm always very constipated. I hope I will improve soon, or I think I'll go nuts.

Posted by Optional on 20/11/2018 at 07:39

i have chronic constipation and have troubles passing gas. sometimes i have to spread my buttocks apart to fart. i get so constipated it comes out hard there are days sometimes a week or two before i can have a bowel movement. ive tried numerous things

Posted by Optional on 17/10/2017 at 06:57

2 yrs ago i couldnt go any where as fear of pooping myself I had a colognosteph, scans n x rays .. as it turns out i have a streach bowl .. straight after the procedure ive been constipation to the point i have to dig the poop out. No help from any doctor's They all say its in my head n just want to put me on antidepressants?? I need hep but can not get it

Posted by christine on 21/08/2017 at 07:13

i had not been able to open my bowels for 7 days. i was in agony and very impacted. the pain was terrible, today i sat on the toilet for 3 hours and finally went but it was slow and agonizing. now my anus is very sore. i have always been constipated since a radical hysterectomy when i was 24 yrs old. i take prunes and prune juice 3 times a week. 3 pieces of fruit daily. 3 vegis each day. mostly chicken and fish. whats wrong. i won't have sex because the pressure of the penis entering in my vagina, is to painful. i am desparate its too sore to sit. when my bowel moved it was 7" long and very thick. whats wrong.

Posted by roda on 31/07/2017 at 10:32

i have two weeks having back pain my breast is swaiien and i have constipation and now iam expiriencing light blood from my vigiana dont know whats going on plz help

Posted by Optional on 15/06/2017 at 02:49

I had a baby 3 and half weeks ago .. i managed a bm about 5days after birth (very painful) but then it wasnt till a week after that i got the urge to go .. however when i tryed going it was that hard and dry it was too painful to pass ... it has now been nearly a fortnight .. i have had seenna two days in a row and evern tryed a supposirty today but still cnt pass because i am in that much pain .. i dont know what to do as i dont want doctors prodding and pocking me just after having a baby .. but i am in pain in my bottom when trying to pass with no success !! HELP !!!

Posted by Optional on 10/06/2017 at 01:08

My rectum feels weak, sick; I have rectocele after hysterecdtomy. I\canot take it any more.

Posted by Optional on 29/04/2017 at 06:17

I was constipated for about 3 days horrible food felt like I was giving birth I must say exlax help me very much with a dash of swans citroma and when I wiped my ass a bit of apple cider vinegar will take away the pain instantly within 7 hours of the outlets and the citroma I was in the bathroom horrible contractions good luck and I wish the best for anybody suffering from these symptoms

Posted by Wendy on 14/03/2017 at 12:21

I had a opp for bowel cancer 3week ago the last few days I have not been able to poo properly and today I want to go but cant and now I am in a lot of pain. Can it be trapped wind

Posted by Smallfry on 05/03/2017 at 08:43

I was constipated for 5 days. I had severe pain in my left groin for a couple weeks. At first on and off, this past week consistantly non stop pain. Left groin working, then working from left inner ankle numbness up to the knee. Now knee to the ankle is non stop pain. A week ago I had excruciating pain in lower back and fell walking up 3 steps. Fell again walking up 3 steps 3 days later. I had a bm last evening and one today. Easing groin pain but still there. Is this pinched nerve causing all this? No swelling in left leg. Thank you!

Posted by Optional on 26/02/2017 at 11:08

It's extremely annoying that I keep having constipation, on and off.Some days I don't pass waste at all because when I do have the need to go to the toilet, it is very difficult to pass faeces. I can't put more pressure because I'm scared if I put too much I'll get piles. Please help.

Posted by Optional on 28/12/2016 at 05:36

Hi, I'm having problems when i go to the toliet, and I.m not so sure why. I few years ago, i found out that i was lactose intolerant. it did affect me after hearing that, but what I found out recently may be that I'm also allergic to gluten. What should I do to change my diet.

Posted by Tried doctors and hospitals al on 01/10/2016 at 05:56

Get so weak and tired trying to pass stool to almost always no success What else can I do my life is always on hold while I suffer

Posted by Dj on 08/09/2016 at 09:19

I have had constipation problems for about a week now. I underwent a perirectum sugery for an abccess about a 2months ago. Since the wounds have healed I have been having problems the stool out the anus. I have been taking Docusate Sodium pills since the surgery. I have slack from drinking alot of water for about 2 weeks and changed diet started eating yougurt 2x daily for the last week and noticed a change in bowel movement in about a day or two. Since the wound healed i noticed that i would pass gas and literally have to spread buttocks apart for it to pass. I noticed barely any space if not any space for anything to pass rspecially stool? Is this an error on the peritectal sugery, or im having complications of my anus not opening? Or is this plain constipation? Somebody please comment. I have drinked Milk of Magnesium and Magnesium Citrate as I was directed and still no luck getting it through. Bowels seem fine

Posted by Optional on 17/03/2016 at 08:13

Zantac seems to work like liquid drano for me. It just unclogges me within minutes.

Posted by Optional on 07/12/2015 at 01:57

I suffer from constipation almost all my life, now there seems to have some kind of growth in the anus and it looks like polyps. Now because of the polyps I can hardly feel my anus I have to strain really hard to force out the first 'plug' out before the rest of the softer motion can pass out. Now even the softer motion I have to use continues force to empty my bowels. I pass motion only twice weekly and even that with help of laxative. I also notice when I strain very hard, I go into some sort of a black out. I get disoriented and for few minutes I don't know whats happening. I don't know if its related to my lower spine problems. I had an Epidural to give me some relief from the excruciating pain, I could hardly walk due to the pain From September 2015 till today, my weight has been making a steady decline, from the peak about 84+ kg to now 73 kg. One of the contributory factor I think is simply consuming less food due to the worry's of being bed ridden. I still have good appetite but several weeks now I lost the taste for my favorite breakfast, three slices of bread with butter and peanut spread and a very big mug off Coffee.

Posted by speedy on 06/12/2015 at 08:35

Five years ago I had constipation and hence I developed rather a weird habit of stimulating my sphincter by fingering it. It has been working since then but now my sphincter cannot move unless stimulated. It's having a big psychological effect on me and now I try to avoid being outdoor. Also am unable to gain weight and have become totally undernourished. Am really regretting what I have done to my body

Posted by 12 years of rocks for stools on 15/09/2015 at 08:21

Try eating figs 4 figs a day, fresh is best or dried no sugar with large glass of water. The figs have an enzyme in them. After a week things may soften up. Plus, liquid suppository to empty bowel, because of a bowel neuropathy. Hope this helps anyone I have been through it all and I take it day by day.

Posted by Add Exercise on 08/08/2015 at 06:23

In addition to the good eating habits and stool softening methods already listed try this... Walk at least a couple miles a day. Stand as much as possible. Repeatedly (but comfortably as possible) stretch your hamstrings, quads, IT band/TFL and back on a daily basis. Also try some core, glute, and pelvic tilt exercises, if possible.

Posted by Optional on 25/07/2015 at 06:25

I have a very small hernia, groin. Drank 1 litre of warm prune juice in a day, still constipated. Help!

Posted by Patience on 13/07/2015 at 10:25

I have been suffering from piles for 2years now . My Dr always told me to drink plenty of water wich i did , but lately i have be struggling to pass out stool , i'd sometimes have to let the stool out myself . So this became worse , i haven't been able to pass out stool for a week now everytime i try i get the sharpest pain ever ,,,, please help . What can i do to solve this problem my stomach is even getting big

Posted by Optional on 12/05/2015 at 02:06

I had camara up my back passage a wk ago an my results were normal an im am back to square one now i havent been to the toilet since

Posted by LizOptional on 27/03/2015 at 08:26

Had a sluggish bowel for many years. Admitted to hospital several times with a compacted bowel. Colonoscopy was fine. Do suffer from gastrits caused by the constipation due the acid returning back into the stomach. On lansoprozol. My bowel now feels that it has lost all sensation. When I do eventually go after sitting on the toilet for ages I don't even have the sensation to push or feel the stools come out. I do have post fractured vertebrates and degenerate disc desease and worrying is my spine causing the lack of sensation

Posted by Optional on 24/01/2015 at 07:47

I'm am in so much pain! I hate when I get like this, its very very painful when I'm unable to use the bathroom. My bm is very hard and comes out like pellets. What can I do ? Please help me...

Posted by DaunOptional on 07/01/2015 at 02:51

I have always had overly dry BM's. I have been in the hospital a lot as a child. Can not poop. Now with IBS. I have to strain and tighten my stomach muscles and force the BM out. I have to hold my breath and bare down. Muscles fight and never relax. I am unable to loosen and relax my rectum so that I wont have to push. Even with laxitivrs. I can not relax. Hard or water I can not relax and let it out.

Posted by Alison on 26/12/2014 at 08:43

I've had some osteoporosis related problems: fractured pelvic socket, sprained ankle, 3 stress fractures in other ankle, compressed fracture of L-4; in the meantime I had a clear discharge from the female area, was constipated for a week, then small BM with lots of mucus surrounding it. Could this be a bacterial female infection; if so, possibilities of name?

Posted by Optional on 24/12/2014 at 11:01

I am conscious with my health. I keep a healthy lifestyle. I eat balanced meals daily with fruits and vegetables. I drink about 4 litres of water a day. And exercise regularly 3-5times a week. But I still have bowel problem. I bowel alternate 2 days. And I have difficulties pushing it out after 2 was out even when I forced it out. It was stuck at my anus and I need to dig it out. It was very sticky. What is the caused?

Posted by Optional on 22/12/2014 at 01:43

As I was pooping, water just suddenly came out. About a 100 ml of it.

Posted by Karthik.S. on 14/12/2014 at 02:21

A major problem with me since childhood is the passing of stools. It is mostly irregular. Now, I go to the bathroom because I have the urge to pass stool but nothing comes out, even though I feel there are stools inside and bloating takes place. This feeling happens very often and is troubling me during school. Can somebody provide a solution?

Posted by susie on 13/12/2014 at 03:15

I feel like I have diarrhea but when I go to the bathroom nothing but water comes out. No poop is this a major problem.

Posted by SB on 03/12/2014 at 05:25

Hello, I was wondering if you could help me about a health issue. I find it really hard to empty my bowls (poo) in summer and go about twice a week. However when it's winter, I go about once a day and can only go when I am really cold. Is being cold linked to pooping at all? I am not changing my diet in summer/ winter and drinking the same amount of fluids. Thanks.

Posted by Optional on 03/12/2014 at 06:34

Sometimes I feel I need to wipe my self but haven't had the need to use the bathroom. Is this from mucus?

Posted by leigh on 03/11/2014 at 07:46

My baby cries a lot and it only happeneed recently she's 5weeks and she finds iy hard 2 break wind and make poo what should I do

Posted by Optional on 18/10/2014 at 07:38

4 years ago I had a bowel resection after removal of a large polyps. I now suffer recurring extreme pain in the anus area on a fairly regular basis. I drink as much water as I Feel necessary and take a regular combination of prescribed medicines to keep the stools soft. The pain is so intense, even with the passing of wind I am at my wits end I requested a colonoscopy and no problems were found.. The pain is so strong it makes me cry but feel I have exhausted my options of getting treatment by reporting this to my Doctor. The pains occur on approximately every two or three weeks.

Posted by Optional on 14/10/2014 at 04:24

I'm having this terrible problem of being constipated....I mean I push and push but nothing came out until just a little came out and I checked and it had mucus. I don't know why it had it but I've been like this for days now and now I'm worried and embarrassed that I might need to have a doctor's visit about this.... please help!!

Posted by Hit singh on 27/09/2014 at 10:06

Best advice I can give is to brew in hot water it indian you call it jawan seed until the become black and drink it hot. This will help to open your bowel when you have a problem.

Posted by Optional on 25/09/2014 at 01:26

I've had to deal with constipation most of my adult life. I just happen to visit the nursing home last week and they give the residents some thing called the brown cow and it seems to work it's prune juice and milk of magnesia. Doesn't hurt to try it. I'm willing to try anything

Posted by Optional on 15/09/2014 at 09:04

Hey. I can't seem to figure out what is wrong with my body as I cannot excrete faeces if I do not have something like prune juice. Please help

Posted by Optional on 10/09/2014 at 11:11

In the past two weeks I have had times where I have severe pressure in my lower abdomen and back. I also have pain when sitting in my rectum area and if I have a bowel movement it is painful to push or even sit on the toilet. I do have diverticulitis and have occasional flare ups but this is different. What is this and is there something I can do to avoid the pain and the pressure

Posted by Optional on 08/09/2014 at 02:10

Ive struggled since I am 21 with chronic chrones disease now out of no where the last week I am unable to pass my bowls Ive tried over counter meds teas etc. I can move a little after taking them but the next day back to same situation. I just want to know if Im in any danger or what I can do

Posted by Anita on 24/08/2014 at 01:48

I recently relocated from Dallas to California. The first 2 weeks I played tennis every day but had to stop due to severe sudden lower back pain on the right lower side. Its lasted 2 wks now and now I'm constipated and haven't had a decent bowel movement in days (maybe a week or more). Recently, I've been feeling the urge to have bowel movement but when I try all that is excreted is a clear liquid and now signs of blood. What could this be?

Posted by Mr.J.Acharya on 22/08/2014 at 12:16

I am suffering from Accute Kidney disease and taking my medicine as per the advise of the Doctor (Neprologist) related to my disease. Now presently I am facing constipation problem. My feeling pain in anus for which I am facing problem at the time of passing of stool.

Posted by Hard Bowels and anus on 03/08/2014 at 06:24

When I have to go have a bowel movement the poop is so hard I can't get it to come out without pulling it out with my hand. My anus used to open up and make this process easier but now the anus does not open hardly at all. What should I do. I use Miralax daily and X-lax 2 times a week but the bowel is still hard.

Posted by Optional on 24/07/2014 at 09:00

I have read everything I possibly can and followed advice upon but û just cannot empty my bowels, tot day will be the 7th day, I have drunk lots of water, eaten veg, fruit and granola but I just can't go, getting a horrible bloated feeling and discomfort in low abdomen, I really don't want to visit GP as it know I wouldn't allow an rectal exam if needed, taken Senokot max strength and other meds with no joy, I would really appreciate help. I am a regular sufferer of constipation then loose then constipation etc. I have chronic arthritis in my knees and secondary in hands. My Meds are Zomorph 90mg daily Peegablin 600mg a day Trazadone 100mg a day Ibuprofen 1200mg a day Duloxetine 120mg a day Levothyrozine 150mg a day Also I have recently had bilateral steroids injected in knees to help with pain. Please help! Thanks

Posted by Help Yourself on 24/07/2014 at 02:34

Hi every one. I want to give you some tips to feel better because reading you guy's comments make me feel uncomfortable. Try all or some of these tips together. Especially 1. 1. drink more water 2.go to the store and buy Traditional Medicinals " Sooth Move" It really helps you completely empty within 6 hours so i usually drink it when I get in and again before I go to bed. No sugar with it. Sugar is dangerous to your body 3. Castor Oil lubes up the insides so important to drink water all day 4. In the morning or during the day drink a green smoothie. One that always helps me go is kale banana chia seeds flax seeds berries and non dairy milk or water 5. Cut back on gluten, (i.e. bread, pasta etc) dairy, and meat

Posted by Donna on 09/07/2014 at 06:41

For several years I have had pressure on the anus to have a bowel movement but nothing happens. I also have on occasion, skid marks (for lack of a better word0 on my underwear. When I do go to the bathroom, a small piece of feces will come out. I have been to a specialist and have had to do anus exercises such as tightening and loosening the anus which doesn't seem to work. I am very frustrated by this problem as I am unable to walk outside any longer as I need a washroom nearby so I can defecate when the urge comes or when I feel burning on the anus as some fecal matter has come out and is between the cheeks and burns terribly need washroom to clean up. I now wear a light pad on my underwear to take away any burning. Can someone help me and hopefully diagnose this problem so I can once again be normal.

Posted by Kevin on 07/07/2014 at 06:07

Dear doctor blood comes out of my anus anytime i try to visit the toilet.can you please tell me whats wrong?

Posted by Nicole on 06/07/2014 at 11:09

I was having severe pain on my lower back. I thought it was my kidneys my boyfriend said it was just gas. I finally moved my bowels yesterday and it was small but a large amount of blood came out. I thought it was my period but the blood was coming from my anus. I'd this something serious that I should be concerned about?

Posted by asad on 29/06/2014 at 07:47

I am feeling pain during stool passing and there is some thing at the end of rectum which create pain and its like har tissue but very small. pleaseguide what to do

Posted by Optional on 16/06/2014 at 03:58

Hi i m 22 years male.i m having bowel problems.i feel something in my anus.i can not defecate properly.i always have a urge to go to toilet after eating even a single biscuit but when go nothing come out or a small bowel.i have to go to toilet 8 times in a day.i never feel empty my abdomen.i also feel tightness in right side of my main problem is that i can never have a complete bowel movement.plz help me.

Posted by Optional on 07/06/2014 at 04:38

Hi i m 22 years male.i m having bowel problems.i feel something in my anus.i can not defecate properly.i always have a urge to go to toilet but when go nothing come out or a small bowel.i have to go to toilet 8 times in a day.i never feel empty my abdomen.i also feel tightness in right side of my main problem is that i can never have a complete bowel movement and feel something in my anus.plz help me.

Posted by Optional on 06/06/2014 at 01:14

having stool stuck in the anus,seriously frustrated,cant even sleep what do i do

Posted by Optional on 15/04/2014 at 12:05

Ive been really constipated for the past couple of weeks but tonight got really bad I was sat on the tpilet for an hour n a half. The beginning of my stool was soft but thn the rest got stuck.. I strained that didnt help I sat up I done everything possible even went fpr a walk around my house with the feeling of urgeness that it was coming out I took laxative I lubed up and still didnt come. The other worse part was my scaring from when I had my daughter from (forceps) started hurting. In the end I just left it stuck very uncomfortably.... what can I do? No chance I van stick my finger up there to pull it out:(:(

Posted by Jessica on 24/03/2014 at 06:31

Im suffering through the problem of piles from past 2 years and i have been taking laxatives ,, from so long so dat i dont get constipated but still im getting constipated after taking laxatives .. What should i do?

Posted by beth on 16/01/2014 at 08:39

Hi I have been having a traumatic two weeks . I got extremly constipated to the point I was hospitalized due to a impacted stool it had been 2 weeks without a bowel movement I had tried fybogel docusate piccasulphate microlax and glycerol suppositries nothing moved it the stool did however pass eventually and consisted of a few lumps with soft bits the pain was awfull . since passing this stool on tuesday I have not passed anything else im frightned as of what is going on ive been drinking loads of water taking laxatives still amd eating fibre ritch foods .

Posted by Gordon on 03/01/2014 at 12:22

Hi. I have had soreness problems with my anus for around 20 years on and off, where at times it gets very sore especially after going to toilet. This soreness can last a couple of hours or often all day. Sometimes so sore I can hardly walk/move at all, thus making life very depressing. I feel so much more "lively" if it doesnt hurt! My stools seem ok, and correct consistency, occasionally hard to pass. Also sometimes once having been to the toilet, hardly anything to wipe away with toilet paper, often though nearly half a roll of paper to clear, then washing etc etc. Most annoying! I have had camera up at the hospital twice, and no problems there. I am over weight, but then lots of others who are bigger than me, dont have my problem. Its a vicious circle as I need to excersise, but cant due to the soreness. Any help please?

Posted by Optional on 14/12/2013 at 07:47

My problem started a few months ago I was suffering a bad head and chest cold at the time,I was taking a lot of over the counter meds to help me and as I started feeling better I noticed I was not having stools like I use to. and I should use a laxative to be able to go but it seam to keep happening and started taking oral stool softeners to help,they helped some so I started taking prune juice 8oz a day and that got things going pretty well but started noticing I was loosing weight.this all started back in April of 2013 my starting weight was at 300lbs now I am at 234lbs can any one help me understand what could be going on I'm scared that it could be cancerplease help''

Posted by 2tight on 20/11/2013 at 12:18

I have this weird issue latelyfirst i had hemeroids,and they seem to have gone away but for like a couple of months now (not always but often) i feel like i have to go very badly,however when i go to the toilet,nothing will come out,i was feeling if my hemeroids got bigger or something but still don't feel any,however did feel that my anal muscle was shut tight,so tight even that probably even tip of pinky finger wouldn't go in,so i am wondering is it possible that my muscles and my brains aren't connected properly,or is there more chance of internal hemeroids?Would be really grateful if anyone that has had similar problem or knows anything about how it works would bother to answer...

Posted by on 12/09/2013 at 05:43

To Optional on 11/09/13 - for more information on the symptoms of colon cancer, please see Dr Phil's bowel cancer video: Get any anal bleeding, or long-term change in bowel habit, abnormal mucus secretion or abdominal pain checked out by your doctor.

Posted by Optional on 11/09/2013 at 01:54, United States

What are symptoms of colon cancer

Posted by Optional on 01/09/2013 at 08:43, United Kingdom

I suffer with 90% paralysed bowel after I had a prolapse repair on my bowel, it is horrendous , I know like on 3 dulolax a night and as u can imagine , my tummy feels like its bin in a washing machine and spun , it makes me feel very sick , I'm fed up with it , just want to be normal again ! If I know the risk I wouldn't have had the operation done in the first place

Posted by Optional on 27/07/2013 at 01:33, United States

i havent went poop for 3 months been goin to the hospitals back an fourth they told me i would b dead its impossible until one day i hit the floor my left side was hurting so bad i was crying so i was rushed to the hospital an they give me a ct-scan an seen i have a infection in my colon i took everything an nothing has worked i still havent went but now i feel worse im having nausea a migraine for 2 days

Posted by Optional on 24/07/2013 at 05:31, United Kingdom

i am still having problems with my intestine moving bowels and when ever i excrete my poo will come watery and weeks or even days i still have the same issue with my body.

Posted by Optional on 15/07/2013 at 03:49, United Kingdom

Severely constipated after chemotherapy, almost like being in labour but managed to clear. Sat backwards on the loo (face the cysten) it gives you something to lean on if nothing else. I put my thumb into my vagina and pushed back towards the bowel. It worked, bit sore but nowhere near as sore as in the past after sitting for hours pushing and splitting.

Posted by Optional on 24/03/2013 at 01:19, Canada

I just got out of the hospital after 5 days cause i thought i had a hernia but i was constipated really bad could not poop at all the hospital gave me everything they had for it amd nothing my wife gave me 2 womens laxative pills and man what a relief you take them at bedtime and in the morning what a relief i have always had trouble going everyday and it ended up being from 2 to 7 days my doctor told me it is not good should go everyday or every second day i hope this helps some people

Posted by Optional on 19/03/2013 at 12:31, United States

Still need advice on going, i took two castor oil yesterday, was busy and got back home nothing, drank tea this morning half went, back home now it is eve and still haven't gone, so i took two more. i'm waiting now and drinking water. stress related.

Posted by pain on 11/03/2013 at 07:36, United States

After complete hysterectomy i ended up with constipation,its been years now i get inpacted and have to remove stool at times when stool softeners dont work,it usually is like a hollow area with stool in there the past week have been having alot of low abdominal pain i thought it may be stool in there but as soon as i put finger in anus theres a buldge like thing that has a hole in it,could it be a protruding rectum? Any help would be appreciated!

Posted by Optional on 21/02/2013 at 09:31, United States

I have nerve damage at L4 L5 and cant sit or walk without crutches. When I have to poop which is difficult I have to sit on toilet and push That causes pressure on feet and glute and causes more pain Do u know how I can do this fast so I dont cause more pain?

Posted by Optional on 07/02/2013 at 08:00, South Africa

I have ms,stool stays in for 8daysand is very large when it finaky cames out,i have to ask someone to help me,it to big for me to get out,trihelped many thingd but it dont help i just wait until colon is full and it has to come out,its is just very big,can you help

Posted by Christoph on 02/02/2013 at 08:30, Nigeria

I used too lift up heavyweights & do sit ups to develop six packs. But, at a stage, it became very pain for me to sit with my stomach relaxed. And to develop muscles in lifting up heavy weights while standing, i heard a sound like something cracked at my back. Every since, i developed a lump at my left backside. Years after not seeing a doctor, i started passing out blood though i had too much of sugar while taking too much soft drinks. And not, i can barely get up from the loo, even if i do, i feel pains in my right leg & cant walk well nor sit comfortably due to enlargement in my anus. Pls help, sometimes, i go unconscious whenever i try to stretch. And i also have a bulging out scapula at my right arm that sometimes make my fingers & my arm numb

Posted by Optional on 28/01/2013 at 11:50, United Kingdom

HELP! i am really constipated and havn't pooed in 11 days now. I am 16, and as a kid i was always contipated because i am scared to poo. This is recently getting worse again, an at the same time as really wanting to poo i am scared. My worse experience was having bleeding anal hole, which put me off pooing. I keep having really big farts and thining its a poo. Ive trie everything, ive tried coffee,Actimel,yoghurts,raisens,grapes. I went hinking earlier, and i could feel a poop coming, however the urge only comes when i'm out. Also, i cannot poo unless there s no one else in the house because i feel self conscious as alo my family know i block the loo. This is taking over my life, i just want to over come this it's been going on too long now! has anyione got some advice, how to soften my stool to make it eaier t come out? or how to make myself go for a poop more than once every fortnight.

Posted by mrs mcgarr on 28/12/2012 at 02:45, Ireland

Hi ive been very constipated for 2 days now i am in agony..It feels like its way too big and hard to pass through.. I keep gettin the urge to go and nothing happens when i go toilet..I cant sit down properly or sleep to good. Ive tried Duphalac Miralax Prune Juice Orange Juice & water..None have worked.Anyone with any tips would help a lot..Thank you

Posted by stiffy on 04/10/2012 at 12:05, United Kingdom

hi, i just came back from bodrum turkey, and afer 2 days there i was constipated. i tried the usual methods but as a regular 2 times a day guy im now thinking it may be a bit more than a bit bunged up, i feel fine in myself but am very bloated in the stomach and now am getting out of breath very quickley. any ideas?

Posted by rachael on 13/09/2012 at 11:54, United Kingdom

i have had constipation for ages. i've always had problems with my 'movements' since i was born. but recently i've been having constipation for 4-7 days, then i have a large painful bm. but i've had constipation for about 10 days and whenever i feel the urge to go to the toilet, my rectum opens up and the feces just sticks out a little bit but not much..but i never get a good movement. any tips? i also have a giant bloated belly, i look's not even funny.

Posted by lHergu on 18/07/2012 at 06:26, India

I have constant urge for bm but i feel constipated and BM does not happen. The pressure is not in stomach or intestine but rectum.I feel constant residue left even I have BM. I have some lower back pain but I do not know if this is thje cause.

Posted by Optional on 17/06/2012 at 08:55, United States

for the pat 4 years in order for me to move my bowels i have to stik my finger in my anal the poop is very hard i have not pain. i have an apetite, i eat a lot of fruit i am not over weight

Posted by Sydney on 20/05/2012 at 12:10, United States

I lost the nerve sensation in the internal anal sphincter muscle, due to MS. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

Posted by lindsay on 09/05/2012 at 06:38, United States

To Amy: I too am having the exact problems. I have pretty severe IBS and I've tried everything. The only thing I've found in the last 2 years that seems to help is taking an "Align" tablet once every night without missing a day and drink about 2 pints/1 1iter a day. My stomach pain and occasional bleeding make me worry that it could be something serious..

Posted by jen on 12/03/2012 at 10:32, United States

I am having this horrible time with constipation and a horrible feces-butt Body Odor, my anus itches and when i do go to the restroom I have to use my finger to get the remainder of my stool out because it just sits there in my anus. I have several questions I read above that hard adn dry feces is because the colon absorbs to much water at one time all I did was drink water adn I'm talking 16 oz. bottles at least 8-9 a day if not more..i was really thirsty.... never checked for diabetes but my odor began after i had my 2nd child who was 8lbs, my first was 6lbs could that second birth caused my fecal body odor to began or could it have been already in my genes-TMAU- and I just never knew until then, my odor doesn't only have a fecal smell but at times it can have a garbage, trash, skunk, unrine, sweet s**t smell. I know that is no where near normal please help me I have been to doctor after doctore with no success what so ever. Thanking you in advance, Jen

Posted by Michael on 24/02/2012 at 01:40, United States

I just had surgery and found I had a 3 day no bowel movement. This is not usual for me. The surgery was 3 weeks ago and I take norco and tramadol and I also take a stool softener but this am I feel the urge to go and when I tried is what concerned me. I felt like my entire end was trying to come out, almost like a 5-6 inch circle coming out. Very concerned and again unable to go I try to feel what's going on. This is when I realize I have a huge rock hard ball of feces that won't budge. I'm starting to worry since I had been Pushing and not have a large amount of prolapsing! I thinking what do I do? So I decided to dig it out. I began bleeding but got it all out. Is the prolapse due to straining and why would this build up like this if there is a stool softener on board? Just wanted to share since many are turned off about sharing since it's about poop!

Posted by Kath on 20/09/2011 at 10:47, United Kingdom

Hi, The problem i was looking for was a clear discharge from the anus. I googled it and it brought me to this page but still couldnt find the answer.

Posted by steve on 14/09/2011 at 02:04, New Zealand

My job is industrial abseiler so I can only go to the loo when it's possible as I am normally 'trapped' in my work area and it takes too long to get to the loo. I have done this job for 8 years now and have no problem with it. My question relates to the fact that people think I am strange for taking so long on the loo when I'm not at work. I have always visited the loo and had a 'double poo' as I call it and this to me is normal. I am also an engineer so when I have my first poo, and then wait for the second, I think. After the first I have an incomplete feeling so I naturally remain on the loo. It's like my body is telling me there is still some bad waste that the body doesn't want and it wants me to sit and wait, but for what? Untill the second round comes. This suggests to me that the passage is a rotating chamber that can only hold so much, then it off loads, spins around, collects another load, and then comes back around to drop it off. I have read about the workings on the net but nothing has mentioned this circulating chamber thing. If you could tell me why this happens I would be very greatful, and probably amazed! I know this may sound like a joke but I genuinely am intersted! Hope you can help, thanks, steve

Posted by cxty on 09/09/2011 at 06:48, United States

I have a problem when I have bowel movements. I can use the bathroom just fine but it always seems that right when the last bit of fecal matter goes to exit my anus, it gets stuck right at the end. Its like I don't have the muscle at the very end of my anus to push the last bit out. Is this possible, if so, what is is called? Also, what can I do about it?

Posted by Tom wallace on 06/05/2011 at 06:01, United Kingdom

I have spina bifida and have a majorly embarrising problem my problem is every time I have an ejaculation my bowels open . No matter if I have just been to the loo it has happened many time any suggestions to help me please.

Posted by Mike Johnson on 18/03/2011 at 07:25, United States

Hi,I. Have a problem where its very very difficult to have a Bowell movement.At first I thought it was constipation but soon I found out that it was not that.I have a lot of pressure in my butt and it feels like my anus is closed shut.I hardly go to the bathroom and when I do its watery like never solid.Iam so depressed I don't know what's wrong with me or can I be fixed.can anybody help?

Posted by Kerrie on 12/12/2010 at 01:52, Australia

To Amy: I had the same problems. Treatment for Giardia fixed it. My constipation is caused by chronic pain medication. Nothing worked till I found Duphalac (a lactase syrup) which softens the stools. (No, I don't have anything to do with the sale of it.)Drinking at least a litre (2 pints) of water a day helps. Good luck. I am now having clear leakage, especially at night. I'd appreciate some advice.

Posted by Optional on 05/11/2010 at 09:09, Australia

Went to the toilet just to wee. Then felt the need to poo. It felt stuck half in and half out so I just sat there waiting. After about half an hour I didn't know what to do. I couldn.t get up because I was pushing (bowel open) so I eventually had to use my finger. It was the most disgusting and traumatic experience I have ever had. Why does this happen?

Posted by Optional on 04/11/2010 at 01:44, United States

i recently had a partial hysterectomy and now my anal canal in having spasms when i try to have a bowel movement what can i do

Posted by Amy on 10/04/2010 at 02:26, United Kingdom

Hi there, I'm having a lot of problems with my digestive system at the moment which is causing me to be very anxious and stressed. To relief the pain from my stomach and to enable to poo most days I have to eat 3 weatabix a day without fail! My pain is mostly on a morning when I wake up.. I have a lot of pain in my kidneys and also in my stomach (I can only describe the pain as an ulcer feeling)I get A LOT of wind too which is very horrible and embarrassing have been to the doctors/referred to the hospital and they diagnosed me with IBS and examined my anus and told me it looked healthy. They also told me to not eat too much fibre which can also cause IBS, which I found this only made my problem even worse to the point I didn't poo for 10 days! The pain got so bad I could hardly move and any kind of pressure on my stomach area was soooo painful. I took it upon myself to start eating weatabix everyday which I found this really helped me to go to the toilet nearly everyday and relief the pain and discomfort a little from my stomach. Now I can poo everyday I get this other problem which is even worse for me! I noticed I was getting a lot of itching around my anus which was so irritating for me. I went to the doctors thinking I had some sort of Ring/Tread worms (because I have a dog and a cat and thought I may have caught worms from them. I told the doctors my symptoms so she described me with treatment for worms. This problem did not go away with the treatment. I then went back to see the doctor and told them it had not worked. She told me to give them a stool sample for them to take away and test. The sample came back negative (I didn't even have worms!!!) NOW WHAT! She told me I might be suffering with piles which maybe me causing the irritation and itchiness. She gave me some thyroid cream to treat inside and around my anus to see if that helped. The treatment was a cream that had a pointy end to it which enables you to squirt the cream inside your anus. I found the application quite difficult to use and felt as though not enough of the cream was been inserted inside me. I took it upon myself to apply the cream inside me with my finger rather than using the application. Whilst applying this inside my anus I felt something! It was poo inside me! I couldn't belive after all this time, after all the treatment and discomfort I had gone through I suddenly new what the problem was! Forget the pile treatment, when I was going for a poo I must not have been finishing properly (although I thought I had done) and poo was getting stuck and staying inside me. The more I've noticed this problem the more I find myself removing the excess poo from inside me with a baby wipe and my finger because I know if I don't the itchiness and discomfort will start again. I have to do this EVERYDAY now and it really must be effecting the tissues inside of me. I see that there is bleeding on the baby wipe whilst I’m doing this. I've also noticed bleeding in my poo too. This is also definitely effecting my personal hygiene by having to do this. This problem is really causing me severe depression and anxiety along with all of my stomach pains throughout the day and first thing on the morning/All the wind I get throughout the day/Having to eat manky weatabix every morning WITHOUT FAIL and sometime even before bed on a night/I've also started suffering from chest pains now too(This maybe related to my anxiety and depression I don’t really know?? I'm just so worried that I’ve got some kind of Cancer/Tumour somewhere within my digestive system. My specialist told me he wasn't going to take it any further and that he was going to refer me to a dietician. I'm still waiting for the letter after two months! This is really ruining my life and getting me so down I don't even want to leave the house most days, it's also really effecting my love life too. I don't know if the pain in my stomach and me not been able to poo properly is related??? Please if anyone have any kind of answers or has any similar symptoms please can you talk about this with me. I hope I'm not the only one going through this as I am so worried. To the point I’m starting with really severe Physiological problems that I’m slowly dying! Please help. Thank you Amy

Posted by Charlie on 07/02/2010 at 06:20, United Kingdom

Life long sufferer from IBS.For peace of mind,always have to be within 2 minutes of a toilet. My lifesaver is Imodium,(Loperamide Hydrochloride,2mg capsules)Two of these taken on the evening before an outing,ensure reasonable safety. Note. This medicine is used for social purposes and is not a cure. Good luck.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/01/2010 at 05:01, Canada

So many of the comments I see here relate to improper digestion, and elimination, of the foods we eat, and the inability for nutrients to be absorbed into the blood. Helene Silver has several GREAT books about all this, one is called "The Body-Smart System", another is called "Rejuvenation". Even if you don't have the stamina to do her 21 day detoxification program, the info (in the Body-Smart System in particular) is critical reading. Due to the type of eating habits we all have become accustomed to, our bodies are very toxic, resulting in the kinds of "symptoms" noted here. We are sorely in need of detoxifying our bodies and bloodstream and changing what and how we eat. Hope this helps. (I come from a family with several members who died of colon cancer, and have been making changes all my adult life. Keeping the colon clean, nourished, and eliminating efficiently is paramount.

Posted by Shane on 27/08/2009 at 08:16, United Kingdom

I have been emitting a clear fluid from my anus these last few weeks and it seems to be on the increase ...? It seems particularly bad when I'm asleep.

Posted by Andy on 25/08/2009 at 02:39, United Kingdom

Because of medication I get constipated and sometimes the stools get stuck half in and out as they are so hard, I have had to use my fingers to remove the stools, but then get blood, is this just small broken veins.


View what people have said about constipation | How the bowels and anus work

Fascinating facts

An average person on a typical Western diet passes about 150 g (5 oz) of faeces each day. Faeces consist of about one-third solids and two-thirds water

The solid matter in faeces is cellulose from vegetables, dead cells cast off from the lining of the gut, bacteria, some salts and pigment from bile (which gives the brown colour)

Most of the waste matter from food is passed out in the faeces within 72 hours, but in healthy people up to 30% may remain in the colon for a week or more

Defecation is a very efficient process, normally taking only 10 seconds. Presumably it has to be quick - animals (and primitive man) cannot run from a predator easily if they are in the middle of defecating. This is probably why it is even quicker when we are frightened

In the USA, more than $800 million is spent on laxatives each year

Constipation results in more than 2–5 million visits to doctors in the USA each year

About 4,500,000 people in the USA say they are constipated most or all of the time (National Health Interview Survey)

In a UK survey, 6% of people said they had suffered from constipation in the past year, 13% had some difficulty in passing their faeces at least once a month, and 19% took laxatives at some time

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