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Why Does It Burn When I Poop?

  • Post published:March 9, 2023
  • Post category:Blog

Burning during bowel movements can be a distressing and uncomfortable symptom, affecting millions of people worldwide. While occasional burning may not be a cause for concern, persistent burning may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires attention. In this article, we will explore the common causes of burning during bowel movements and provide tips on how to treat this symptom. Whether you’re experiencing mild discomfort or severe pain, it’s important to seek medical attention if your symptoms persist.

Common Causes of Burning During Bowel Movements

Anal fissures:

Anal fissures are small tears or cuts in the lining of the anus, which can be caused by passing large or hard stools, chronic diarrhea, or trauma to the anal area. Symptoms may include burning, itching, and pain during bowel movements.


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum, which can cause discomfort and bleeding during bowel movements. Symptoms may include burning, itching, and pain around the anus.

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Stress

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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):

IBD is a group of chronic conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In addition to burning during bowel movements, symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.

  • Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s disease affects the lining and sometimes the deeper layers of the digestive tract. The disease may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue.
  • Ulcerative colitis: This condition is characterized by inflammation and sores on the inner lining of the rectum and the colon (large intestine).


Certain infections, such as anal warts or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause burning or discomfort during bowel movements.

Food sensitivities:

Some people may experience burning during bowel movements as a result of food sensitivities or allergies, particularly to spicy or acidic foods.


Dehydration can cause hard stools, which can in turn cause anal fissures or hemorrhoids and result in burning during bowel movements.

By identifying the common causes of burning during bowel movements, you can better understand the underlying conditions that may be causing your symptoms and seek appropriate treatment.


Proctitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the rectal lining, typically caused by trauma to the area from anal sex or the insertion of objects.

Symptoms of proctitis may include:

  • Rectal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Itching
  • Discharge
  • Constant urge to pass stool

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, proctitis can lead to more serious complications such as ulceration or scarring of the rectal lining. Treatment options may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, or changes in sexual behavior.


While rare, colon cancer and rectal cancer can sometimes cause a burning sensation during bowel movements. These cancers often begin as growths called polyps that attach themselves to the intestinal wall, potentially causing blockages and bleeding.

Some common symptoms of colon and rectal cancer include:

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in stool consistency
  • Anal discharge or bloody stools
  • Growths in the anus
  • Itching, irritation, burning, or pain in or around the anus
  • Abdominal cramps, gas, or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels

If you experience any of these symptoms or suspect an underlying medical condition is causing a burning sensation during bowel movements, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment of colon and rectal cancer can improve outcomes and potentially save lives.


It’s not uncommon to experience occasional constipation, as various factors like diet, stress and hormonal changes can affect your digestive system from time to time. However, chronic constipation can lead to a burning sensation while passing stool.

While constipation affects millions of Americans, there are ways to manage it. It’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional for expert medical advice on managing your constipation.

Key Point: Chronic constipation is a condition where you may experience difficulty passing stools for several weeks or months. While passing stools three times a week may be normal for some, experiencing pain or having to push hard during bowel movements is not.

Chronic constipation may also indicate a bowel blockage, also known as an intestinal obstruction. If you suspect this or experience stomach cramps, it is crucial to contact your doctor immediately for proper evaluation and treatment.

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Is It Normal to Experience Pain During Bowel Movements?

Pain during bowel movements can be caused by various factors such as anal fissures, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, infections, or food sensitivities. Mild or occasional discomfort is normal, but persistent or severe pain is not. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe pain during bowel movements. Your healthcare provider can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.

How to Treat Burning During Bowel Movements

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help soften stools and reduce the risk of anal fissures or hemorrhoids, which can cause burning during bowel movements.

Increase fiber intake: Eating a diet rich in fiber can help regulate bowel movements and reduce constipation, which can contribute to anal fissures and hemorrhoids. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Avoid spicy or acidic foods: Spicy or acidic foods can irritate the lining of the anus and cause burning during bowel movements. Avoiding these foods or limiting your intake may help reduce your symptoms.

Practice good hygiene: Keeping the anal area clean and dry can help prevent infections and reduce irritation. After a bowel movement, gently wipe the area with moist toilet paper or use a bidet, and avoid harsh or scented soaps.

Use a topical ointment: Over-the-counter topical ointments, such as hydrocortisone cream or petroleum jelly, can help soothe the anal area and reduce burning or itching.

Seek medical attention: If your symptoms persist despite these measures, or if you experience rectal bleeding, fever, or severe pain, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Other Symptoms That May Accompany Painful Bowel Movements

Discomfort during bowel movements:

  • A burning sensation when pooping
  • An inability to completely empty your bowels
  • A feeling like there’s a blockage in your digestive system
  • A need to remove the stool with your finger

Changes in bowel habits:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Stools that are lumpy or hard
  • Runny stools
  • The passing of three or more stools per day
  • The passing of fewer than three stools per week

Rectal bleeding:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody stools

Fever or chills

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can sometimes cause painful bowel movements. STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, and genital warts may cause inflammation of the rectum (proctitis).

In addition to a burning sensation during bowel movements, these STIs may cause other symptoms such as:

  • Rectal discomfort or bleeding
  • A constant urge to pass a stool
  • Constipation
  • Anal pain

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your healthcare provider for an evaluation and appropriate treatment. Left untreated, STIs can lead to serious health complications. Using condoms during sex can help reduce the risk of STIs.

Diet or lifestyle

The food you eat and the lifestyle choices you make can significantly affect your digestive health. To promote good gut health, it’s important to make choices that support digestion.

Certain factors can negatively impact your body’s ability to digest food, such as:

  • A diet high in fat and low in fiber
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Inadequate hydration
  • Eating irregularly or not following a consistent eating schedule
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Lack of sleep
  • High-stress levels or anxiety

By making small changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, you can support your digestive system and overall health. Consider incorporating more fiber-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, establishing a regular eating schedule, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels to promote optimal digestion.

Treatments for Discomfort

The treatment for a burning sensation when pooping will depend on the underlying cause. Over-the-counter treatments, such as stool softeners, hydrocortisone, or ibuprofen, may be effective for mild cases. However, more serious conditions like cancer or Crohn’s disease will require medical treatment.

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help alleviate the discomfort associated with painful bowel movements. Here are some tips:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Reduce stress
  • Establish a regular bowel movement schedule
  • Maintain regular meal times
  • Increase fiber and water intake
  • Avoid foods that trigger allergic reactions
  • Incorporate regular exercise
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement
  • Get enough rest

How to Prevent Painful Bowel Movements

Preventing painful bowel movements is possible by taking proactive steps to maintain healthy bowel habits. Here are some tips for preventing painful bowel movements:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids throughout the day.
  • Consume a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat. This can help regulate bowel movements and reduce constipation.
  • Exercise regularly to promote healthy bowel function and reduce stress.
  • Try to maintain a consistent bowel movement schedule by going to the bathroom at the same time each day.
  • Avoid straining during bowel movements by taking the time to relax and breathe deeply.
  • Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, as holding it in can cause constipation and discomfort.
  • If you experience any discomfort or pain during bowel movements, speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.


Painful bowel movements can be caused by a variety of factors, including medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and infections. Some additional symptoms to look out for include rectal bleeding, fever, and a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels. If you experience painful bowel movements, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and get appropriate treatment. Maintaining good digestive health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management can also help prevent painful bowel movements.

Where Can I Learn More about Bowel Movements and Bowel Health?

Do you suffer from painful bowel movements or dread passing a stool? Whether it’s diarrhea, constipation, bleeding hemorrhoids, or a more serious condition like inflammatory bowel disease, relief is possible. You can receive treatment and management advice without leaving your home by scheduling a video appointment with a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner. Get the help you need through your computer, smartphone, or tablet. For more information, visit

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