Advice about Bowel Movements

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Blood in stools

Nov 2005

Ever since I was pregnant, and during my pregnancy, I periodically have blood in my stool. It's going on nearly 4 years now. Since all the medical books pretty much tell you to run immediately to a doctor if this happens, it worries me a bit. My doctor has made some alarming errors in diagnosis on other things (though she is extremely sure of herself), so when she told me not to worry about it, I insisted on more assurance. She did a rectal exam and told me it must be from an internal hemorrhoid, though I have no other symptoms. Later, when I worried about it again, the physician's assistant in the same office did another rectal exam and came to the same conclusion. They prescribed stool softeners, which I am sure I don't need, and I've never been able to connect it to any sort of constipation. We've never done any other sort of tests. Is this really something I don't need to worry about? Have others had the same experience? If I should insist on some other tests, what would they be? I'd really like to stop worrying about this.

If the blood is red than it is right there near the surface, which really shouldn't be a concern. It is probably just as you've been told, an internal hemorrhoid-- be grateful that you don't have other symptoms!! During my pregnancy, my butt was like a cauliflower and I was in great pain and distress.... do yourself a favor and take the stool softeners so you don't get to that point! If the blood was dark, then it would originate from higher up in your colon or stomach and that would be a warning of something serious. Too bad we are not more inclined to use bidet's, we wouldn't have these issues as often! anon

I have had problems with hemorrhoids since I was in high school (sounds like you do not have this problem though). Anyway, when I was 30 I started seeing bright blood in my stool (and started getting fissures too which bleed as well)...even when I was not constipated sometimes. I had a lot of internal hemorrhoids (which you may have developed during your pregnancy and/or delivery). These generally do not hurt. It's the ones which are near the opening which tend to hurt more. They are just prolapsed veins and the skin is very thin there. However, if they bleed, they are a warning sign that your stools may be a little too hard and/or you may be straining a little too much during bowl movements. I generally take this blood as a warning signal to drink more water and increased the insoluble fiber in my diet (wheat bran, citracel or metamucil (sp?), peas, beans etc). Stool softners (such as colace) can also help when you are having an incident.

Generally, if the blood is bright red it is mostly likely caused by hemorrhoids. If it is dark or tar colored then this is something more serious. If your doctor has done an internal exam they may be able to see these hemorrhoids and see that they are swollen or bleeding which is why they may not be concerned. However, I know how you always gives me a chill to see it.

If they do start causing you pain or constant problems, you can get them banded (removed with an outpatient procedure...not surgery). But I would recommend trying a diet change first. Anon

I had the same thing. After going through a colonoscopy -- a fairly unpleasant procedure -- it was diagnosed as an internal hemorrhoid. Note that everyone has to have a colonoscopy eventually (many people start having them at 50), so it might be reasonable to push up the date for your first one. But it's probably nothing to worry about. anon

I've also had blood in my stool, but it's always been connected to constipation and the hemeroids I developed after the delivery of my daughter. I started drinking lots more water and eating a bowl of fiber cereal every day to smooth things out which has helped. That said, blood in the stool can also be connected with disorders of the colon. Because I have a family history of colon cancer, and because 2 of my brothers had colonoscopies and polyps were found, I had a colonscopy also and 2 pre-cancerous polyps were found and taken out. This is not to say that the bleeding I experienced was due to the polyps specifically, but I wanted to rule it out because of my family history. You might consider a consult with a gastroenterologist just to be on the safe side and for your piece of mind. happy I did it

You need to see a gastroenterologist. GPs are notorious for misdiagnosing (although some are wonderful.) And a rectal exam just isn't going to give anyone enough information. It's a good sign you don't have other symptoms, but I would get to a specialist sooner rather than later. In the event that you have something that needs attention, you will do much better to treat it as early as possible. Cancers and other nasty things can grow for years without any warning... and then 6 mos. after it's finally been detected, you're dead. I'm not trying to scare you and I sincerely hope you are fine, but get this checked out. Blood in the stool is not normal. anon/been there

First off, I'd ask for a colonoscopy, especially if there's any history of colorectal polyps (or cancer) in your family. That's the thing everyone's afraid of when they insist you go straight to your doctor. It's a disease with almost no symptoms, and if you get it in the early stages, it's almost completely curable. Karen

Why not bite the bullet and get a colonoscopy? They're not fun but will probably give you an answer for certain Jill

I think the test you should ask for is a colonoscopy or a sigmoidectomy (sp?). Go to the American Cancer Society website and you can find the name of the test. Although one shouldn't overly focus on small problems, it is also important to be assertive about medical care. I was diagnosed with cancer at a younger age than it usually appears -- my doctor dilly-dallied for about a year before doing a biopsy; but it was also my fault because I wasn't assertive, was very busy, and didn't think there could be anything wrong with me. Since then I've been to a number of support groups for cancer survivors, and for younger (30s, 40s) people without 100% clear symptoms this seems to happen more often than not. If you have the test and it's nothing you'll be relieved, and if it's something you will have done your best to catch it in time. anon

I have had blood in my stool but also have mucus as well. I had a sigmiodoscopy (sp?) and was told I had protitis (an inflamation of the rectum). I was prescribed meds (enemas and suppositories) and they work well at keeping the symptoms at bay. You might want to see a GI doc. I see Dr. Rorke in Berkeley and he is mild mannered and this is his specialty. I personally would get a second opinion from a different doc, preferrably a specialist. anon, of course