I'm having trouble pooping!
January 24, 2012 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Pooping has become increasingly difficult and I think something inside my colon is blocking my ability to defecate. Thoughts? (Kinda gross, but not really.)

28. Very healthy (well, on the outside). I've had issues with small, external hemorrhoids in the past that just seem to go away with time (and reduced pressure on the area).

A few weeks ago I had yet another small (size of a pea) hemorrhoid pop up around my rectum for whatever reason. I've been to the doctor in the past about this and they basically told me to reduce pressure on the area and hope it goes away, and they always have. And while the visible hemorrhoid that I had a few weeks ago has disappeared, going to the bathroom has become very difficult.

I know my body and while I eat a good amount of healthy food, and feel the need to go to the bathroom, when I sit down it is just impossible for me to get anything out without significant pressure. And when something does come out, it feels/seems like the waste material has to 'sneak' around something in my rectum in order to actually make it out of my body. Basically it feels like there is a block somewhere.

If things don't change in the next few days (it has been going on for at least a week now) I'm going to see a doctor, and I know you aren't my doctor, but has anyone been in this situation before? Is it more serious than I think? There is no blood or mucus in my stools.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
I don't see you mention this anywhere, so someone's going to say it. But are you drinking lots of water and eating sufficient dietary fiber? (a good source of dietary fiber as a supplement is flax seed powder) Has your diet changed recently? Can you go back to a diet where this wasn't a problem?
posted by Pants! at 7:29 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

More fiber as Pants! says. Works for me.
An enema would help as well if it is so bad that you can't get started.
posted by JayRwv at 7:35 AM on January 24, 2012

It might just be that the thing that's obstructing your poop is, well, more poop, but just really hard poop?

Drink lots of water. Literally tons. And don't do this as a quick fix, but just start drinking a ton more water and make that part of your routine.

Coffee can also help in this kind of situation but only a cup a day as it's a diuretic and you don't need to lose more water now.

Eat tons of green vegetables, spinach is good, and take a stool softening tablet for a few days.
posted by Ziggy500 at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't be afraid of the stool softeners. Once you get past the ick of having to buy them in public they work pretty well. Pro tip: You can always go to an out-of-the-way grocery store with the self-checkout machines.

Also, this may be something you should try.

As always, check with your doctor though. Since it seems like you've already had part of the discussion without mentioning this to him/her.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:43 AM on January 24, 2012

Go to your neighborhood pharmacy and buy simple glycerin suppositories. Cheap and effective. And eat a high fiber breakfast, whole grains and fruit and nuts.
posted by mareli at 7:46 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

For those willing to, erm, dig, this famous Reddit thread is chock full of good ideas / inspiration / body horror / advice.

Among them: digital manipulation (the finger kind, not the iPhone kind), seeing your doc / walk-in care clinic, different toilet positions, anal lubricants, stool softeners.

In any case, don't let embarrassment stop you from getting medical help. They are very very used to this, and waiting can kill you. And you really want to be the person who died from poopbarassment?
posted by gregglind at 7:59 AM on January 24, 2012

More fibre, more water, no cheese, no meat.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:22 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

when something does come out, it feels/seems like the waste material has to 'sneak' around something

This is what stood out to me. There are several possible reasons for this specific sensation that range from regular constipation to fecal impaction (basically a kind of Super Constipation) to a polyp or tumor (the latter is unlikely, based on your age, but not actually out of the realm of possibility). You may just need a stool softener or a fiber regimen (that strikes me as the most likely possibility) but you may actually need something entirely different.

If at all possible, go specifically to a gastroenterologist or a colorectal surgeon, not just a GP. If you have to see a GP first, ask for a referral.

In the meantime, stay very hydrated, eat fresh fruits/vegs/grains, cut down on meat/dairy, and supplement with some fiber (Citrucel tends to produce less gas than Metamucil or any of the other psyllium fibers). Start with the fiber and hydration today. If things aren't better by Thursday, I would talk to a doc.
posted by scody at 8:24 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

What scody said. See a gastroenterologist. I had an experience where inflammation from the hemorrhoids was bad so it caused the rectum to spasm. It actually feels like there is something blocking your bowel. A bowel blockage is bad. Emergency room bad. But unless you are vomiting, I doubt you have a blockage.
Also, milk of magnesia may help. But that can irritate the hemorrhoids. The stool softener may work better.
posted by hot_monster at 8:33 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely see a gastroenterologist. If you're male you may want to have your prostate (or that general area) checked out before doing a lower endoscopy. Being 28, your odds would be very low for anything going on there but its possible (and a bit less hassle than a lower GI)
posted by samsara at 8:48 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stool softener, water, and fiber should straighten you out. Buy some of those fiber tablets and take them religiously. As for stool softener, be aware that there are two kinds: stimulant, and non-stimulant. You probably want the non-stimulant variety, as the stimulant variety can cause an inconvenient emergency.
posted by Gilbert at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2012

If you find out you don't have a tumor, try flax meal or flax seed oil (down it with orange juice if you don't like the taste -- I like the taste, but I hate the sensation of oil in my mouth). It helps a lot.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2012

Drink lots of water, take a stool softener and try to go for a nice walk every day. Walking is a great way to get things moving. Like others I suspect that the thing your poop is having to get around is more poop. If that doesn't clear things out go see a doctor, you may have some impaction going on and might need some manual help/enema to help break things up. Also your doctor can check it's not anything more serious. Don't be embarrassed to talk to your doctor, they hear stuff like this all the time and are really hard bother.
posted by wwax at 9:41 AM on January 24, 2012

My wife has ibs. Everyone told her more fiber more water for years and that just made it worse and worse.

We eliminated gluten and mostly eat a carnivore diet, low carb, zero grains, low fiber except for nuts (not peanuts). She is fine now.

Ymmv. Fiber is overrated.
posted by rr at 9:43 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am not a board-certified butt doctor, but I, uh, know a guy who had a similar issue. His solution is to eat All-Bran Buds for breakfast, without fail, and drink three liters of water a day, without fail. Other proven solutions include a can of baked beans a day which, while effective, has certain olfactory side effects.

I note you eat a good amount of healthy food but if that healthy food doesn't include significant fiber and lots of fluids then you can run into issues. Take it from the partner of an RN: you never want to hear the words "manual disimpaction" in reference to your own, personal butt.

The butt is an amazing thing; damn near all its potential problems can be solved or at least significantly alleviated by the application of significant fiber and water.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2012

Are your poops skinny? Like, pencil-diameter skinny? If so, you definitely want to see your doctor right away. If not, try something like Miralax, which is an osmotic stool softener; it's not a drug and it isn't absorbed into your body, it just increases the amount of water in your poo. My kid takes it every day to prevent horrific constipation. (It's also the stuff used for colonoscopy prep, at much higher doses. And the stuff that makes baby wipes so effective! But I digress.) That's been very effective for us to help get things moving and clear out some fairly substantial blockages without doing anything to otherwise alter or gork up her system.

Do be sure you drink plenty of water, though, because the extra water has to come from somewhere.
posted by KathrynT at 9:49 AM on January 24, 2012

One note on fiber supplements: I've been told by a number of docs and nurses that the fiber capsules tend to be less effective for these purposes than the fiber you stir into a drink or eat as wafers.
posted by scody at 9:53 AM on January 24, 2012

Not to be an alarmist, but my friend had the symptoms you were describing for a few years. It turned out to be an enormous malignant tumor. Because he thought it was "just constipation" and attempted to treat it with fiber and enemas, it was stage IIIC when they found it. He was 24.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you a woman? If so, and especially if this starts seeming related to your cycle in any way, consider endometriosis. I had some that gave me the same feeling as you, and it's because something literally was blocking things--misplaced endometrial tissue.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:00 PM on January 24, 2012

It could be IBS, or it could be something more serious. I agree with easy, lucky, free that it sounds like this is something to go see a doctor about, and ask for a referral to a GI about. If nothing else, you'll feel better once you're getting it dealt with.
posted by pie ninja at 1:45 PM on January 24, 2012

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