Straining while pooping can happen occasionally. However, constant strain during bowel movements can injure the rectum and lead to several health conditions.

Straining occurs when a person is constipated. People may develop constipation for several reasons, including lifestyle behaviors, certain medical conditions, and medications. There are certain steps a person can take to alleviate the discomfort of straining.

This article explores the risks associated with straining while having bowel movements, the causes of straining, and what a person can do to prevent straining.

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Everyone’s bathroom habits are a little different. What a person eats, their age, how active they are, and other factors can affect how often they have a bowel movement.

Some people have one to three bowel movements daily, while others may have two to three weekly.

If a person is straining to have a bowel movement, they may be at risk of several complications.


Straining while pooping increases the risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus or rectum. They can cause itching, pain, and sometimes bleeding. Increased pressure from straining can cause the vessels in the rectum to swell and become irritated.

Learn more about hemorrhoids.

Anal fissures

Straining can also lead to anal fissures, which are small tears in the lining of the anus. They can cause pain and bleeding during bowel movements.

Anal fissures occur because of the stretching that happens when a person strains due to constipation.

Learn more about anal fissures.

Hiatal hernia

While not as common as other complications of constipation, a person can develop a hiatal hernia from straining.

When a person strains during a bowel movement, the pressure inside their abdominal area greatly increases. This increase in pressure can cause part of the stomach to bulge up through the diaphragm muscle into the chest cavity.

Hiatal hernias can cause abdominal discomfort and acid reflux.

Vasovagal syncope

Bearing down while pooping can induce a sudden drop in blood pressure, causing a person to faint. This is a condition doctors call vasovagal syndrome.

A person may experience:

Rectal prolapse

In rare cases of straining, a person may develop rectal prolapse, where part of the rectum protrudes from the anus.

A partial rectal prolapse is when the rectum’s lining drops through the anus, and a complete rectal prolapse is when the entire rectum protrudes.

A person with rectal prolapse will experience a reddish mass protruding through the anus. They may also pass mucus and blood from the anus or lose control over their bowel movements.

If a person is straining to have a bowel movement, they are experiencing constipation or, in severe cases, fecal impaction.


Constipation is the leading cause of straining while pooping. It occurs when stool becomes too hard and difficult to pass.

Constipation can happen to anyone at any age. The condition can be due to:

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause disruptions in the functioning of the digestive system, which may lead to constipation and straining.

These may include:


Some medications and dietary supplements can cause or worsen constipation, contributing to straining. These medications may include:

  • narcotic pain medications
  • calcium channel blockers
  • diuretics
  • iron supplements
  • antacids
  • medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • some seizure medications
  • some medications for depression

If a person is straining while pooping, stopping and trying again later may be beneficial. A stool softener, suppository, or enema may help soften the stool and prevent straining.

If a person is frequently straining while having bowel movements, it is important they take steps to prevent complications from developing.

Lifestyle changes

Several lifestyle changes may help a person have stools that are easy to pass and do not require straining, such as:

  • Fluids: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help keep stools soft.
  • Diet: Eating a fiber-rich diet, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, is beneficial.
  • Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity helps promote healthy bowel function.


Several medications available over the counter or by prescription may help a person have easier bowel movements. These include:

  • stool softeners
  • osmotic agents
  • lubricants
  • stimulants or laxatives

It is important to only use laxatives for a short period. Doctors also only recommend using them when constipation is severe or other treatment methods have not worked.

Learn more about medications for constipation.

To help prevent straining, it is best for people to listen to their bodies when they need to have a bowel movement. It is important to make time to use the restroom as soon as possible rather than waiting.

A person can also try bowel training. This involves making time every day at the same time to have a bowel movement.

Getting adequate fluids, fiber, and exercise can also help reduce straining.

A doctor can help if a person is having trouble addressing constipation through lifestyle methods or if their symptoms are severe.

If a person believes a medication may be causing them to experience constipation and straining, they can speak with their doctor about other options.

IBS resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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Straining while pooping may happen from time to time, but regular straining may injure the rectum. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and other complications may result from excessive straining.

To avoid straining, a person can try staying hydrated, eating a diet high in fiber, and staying active. Over-the-counter and prescription medications may also help.

If a person finds themselves regularly straining or experiences severe constipation, it is important they speak with their doctor.