Rectal pressure can make a person feel like they constantly have to use the toilet. Pressure in the rectum can be uncomfortable or even painful.

The rectum is the final portion of the large intestine. Stool travels through it before exiting the anus. The rectum is close to many other pelvic organs and typically sits next to the lower backbone or sacrum.

Pressure in this area may cause generalized discomfort or a feeling that poop, or stool, is stuck in their anus.

If a person experiences rectal pressure, it is a good idea to talk with a doctor about potential causes and treatment options. Some people may feel embarrassed about telling their doctor, but there is no need to, as it is a common symptom of many treatable problems.

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The possible causes of rectal pressure include:

Constipation

Constipation is when a person has difficulty passing stool or passes stool less frequently than usual.

When a person has constipation, their stool may become hard and dry, which can increase feelings of pressure in the rectum.

Common symptoms of constipation include:

  • feeling as if the bowels have not emptied
  • having three bowel movements or less a week
  • having stool that is lumpy, dry, or hard
  • straining when going to the bathroom

While everyone experiences occasional constipation, chronic constipation can be uncomfortable and may be due to another gastrointestinal condition.

Learn more about chronic constipation here.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that develop in the rectum or around the anal opening.

While external hemorrhoids around the anal opening are usually visible or a person can feel them, they cannot usually tell when they have internal hemorrhoids in the rectum.

In addition to rectal pressure, hemorrhoid symptoms include:

  • burning when having a bowel movement
  • itching around the rectal area
  • small amounts of blood on toilet paper after passing stool

In the United States, hemorrhoids affect around 1 in 20 adults and around half of people over 50.

A person has a greater chance of developing hemorrhoids when they are pregnant, if they have a history of constipation, and as they age.

Learn how long hemorrhoids last here.

Anal abscess or fistula

An anal abscess is a pus-filled area around the anus. An abscess can occur when an anal gland becomes blocked, and bacteria multiply.

If left untreated, an anal abscess can develop into a fistula. The fistula creates a tunneled area between the abscess and the buttocks.

Symptoms of an anal abscess or fistula include:

People with Crohn’s disease are at greater risk of developing an anal abscess or fistula. Sometimes, a fistula may require surgical treatment.

Learn more about a Crohn’s disease fistula here.

Anal fissure

An anal fissure occurs when a portion of the lining in the rectum or anus tears. Having a large bowel movement or passing stool forcefully can cause this tear.

In addition to rectal pressure, a person may experience rectal bleeding and pain, particularly when having another bowel movement.

Learn about bumps on the anus here.

Fecal incontinence

Fecal incontinence occurs when a person cannot control when they have a bowel movement. They may accidentally pass stool before they reach a toilet. Chronic constipation, nerve damage, or muscle injury can lead to incontinence.

In addition to rectal pressure, a person may pass mucus. The stool is often loose and diarrhea-like.

This condition can greatly affect a person’s quality of life, but many treatments are available to reduce or stop symptoms.

Learn more about diarrhea here.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a condition that occurs when the prostate, which is a small gland that helps produce semen, becomes inflamed. Prostatitis is usually due to a bacterial infection, but sometimes, the cause is unknown.

As well as rectal pressure, prostatitis can cause symptoms, including:

Treatments for prostatitis depend upon the underlying cause.

Learn more about the prostate gland here.

Rectal prolapse

A rectal prolapse occurs when the rectum slides out of the anus and turns inside out. This happens when the muscles that keep it in place weaken.

A person with rectal prolapse may feel something falling out of their rectum when they have a bowel movement. Sometimes, a person may mistake rectal prolapse for hemorrhoids.

Additional symptoms associated with rectal prolapse include:

  • difficulty feeling when they need to pass stool
  • incontinence, or passing stool accidentally
  • mucus coming from the rectum
  • painful bowel movements

Without treatment, rectal prolapse can worsen over time.

Learn about proctitis or inflammation of the lining of the rectum here.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine, including the rectum.

The condition is chronic, so a person with UC will learn to manage flare-ups but may also experience times without symptoms when it is in remission.

Signs that a person may have UC include:

While doctors do not know what causes UC, they know people with a family history of IBD are more likely to develop it.

Learn more about IBD in our dedicated hub here.

Other causes of rectal pain

A person may experience varying forms of rectal pain for many reasons, including:

Learn more about rectal pain here.

To diagnose the cause of rectal pressure, a doctor will take a person’s health history and ask about their symptoms. They may ask when a person first noticed the pressure and if anything makes it worse or better.

A doctor will usually perform a physical examination of the rectum. They may insert a gloved finger to see if they can feel any abnormalities, such as hemorrhoids.

A doctor may also recommend further tests to examine the rectum. This includes inserting an instrument called an anoscope or a sigmoidoscope.

These thin pieces of equipment with a camera and light on the end allow a doctor to see the inside of the intestine to view any problems.

A doctor may also use imaging studies, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, to identify irregularities, for example, tumors, abscesses, or fistulas.

Other diagnostic tests include anorectal manometry, which measures the average pressure in a person’s rectum.

Learn more about colorectal cancer here.

The treatment for rectal pressure will depend on the underlying cause.

People can treat occasional constipation at home with over-the-counter laxatives, and by eating more fiber and drinking plenty of water.

A doctor may also prescribe medications to treat chronic constipation. If a person has prostatitis, a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.

If a person has a chronic condition, such as UC, Crohn’s disease, or chronic prostatitis, a doctor can prescribe medications to help manage their symptoms. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend surgery to correct issues such as rectal prolapse or anal fistulas.

Learn about home remedies for constipation here.

A person should see a doctor if rectal pressure becomes a regular occurrence.

If they experience signs of acute infection or bleeding, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Learn about when constipation becomes an emergency here.

Rectal pressure is a common symptom of many different conditions. Unless rectal pressure is due to occasional constipation, people should consult a doctor for a diagnosis.

A doctor can recommend effective treatments for rectal pressure and provide advice and medications to prevent it from happening.

Read this article in Spanish.