My body stores feces in the rectum -- weird, but is it bad?
December 4, 2007 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Every anal-sex manual says not to worry, feces isn't stored in the rectum. Well, my body doesn't know that. Could this cause, or be the effect of, any health problems I should know about? Text gets explicit.

I've used the politest words I know so I don't gross you guys out -- but if your interest is prurient rather than medical, you still aren't going to want to eat while reading this.

My boyfriend -- an anal expert -- has been wanting to explore that route with me. (I'm a woman, mid-20s.) I hadn't done any anal play before, but I'm GGG enough to be willing to give it a shot. I read a couple of books and websites, and although they all were clear about the need for cleanliness, they all said that the colon, not the rectum, stores feces.

So one night in the shower, exploring on my own, I inserted a finger. I've repeated this experiment a whole lot, and something's wrong with either the books or my body. Once I make it past the sphincter, there's not just traces remaining from my last bathroom visit -- even if I've just defecated and feel like I'm empty, I have little trouble reaching (with a finger or two) plenty of feces. I do have to twist and turn as soon as I make it past the inner sphincter.

All this doesn't put a stop to his exploration, although he knows to go slow; so far he's only rimmed and fingered me. Before we get involved with anything in the area, I hop in the shower and get as clean as I can inside and out (yes, I scoop it out with my fingers, drop it in the toilet, and flush...yes, it took me a few tries to be okay with that). Then I rinse the inner area thoroughly, use tons of soap on my anal area (outside only, obviously), tons of soap and Purel on my hands, and we're good to go. An enema might be another option, but he says I'm perfectly clean after I do what I do, so I'm okay with that.

My question is why I have to do it.

For anal it doesn't really matter. So I jump in the shower beforehand -- so what? The logistics aren't important to me. But is storing feces in my rectum a sign or a cause of some important digestive health issue I should know about? I'm including everything I can think of that could possibly be related. Feel free to ask more relevant questions if you want Jessamyn to deal with TMI e-mails from me (sorry, Jessamyn).

I go to the bathroom a few times a day, but mostly to urinate; I only defecate once or twice a day, and never without urinating.

I don't feel like I have to push or strain. When I'm done, I feel like I'm done, not like there's more hanging around inside my rectum. I've tried bearing down after I feel I'm done, but with no results.

I have no trouble wiping clean or washing the exterior -- what I'm worried about is well inside the anus.

I average about 20 grams of fiber a day as part of a healthy diet. The fiber comes from fruit, vegetables, hot and cold cereal, and whole-grain bread/pasta. If I add, say, a bran muffin to my day, I can't go far from the bathroom and am very unhappy all day -- but the problem described above doesn't change. (Side note: I keep track of everything I eat, so if you have any more questions about my diet, I can answer them accurately.)

Corn is a food widely noted as being visible in feces. I also experience this with some other vegetables, including peas, green beans, spinach, and spaghetti squash. I'm not sure if this is normal or not.

I drink a fair amount of skim milk, but I have no reason to suspect I'm lactose-intolerant (no excessive gas, bloating, constipation, discomfort, etc., and no race-based risk factors). When I stopped drinking milk for awhile, nothing changed.

Let me know if any other information would be helpful. Again, I'm really not looking for clean-up tips or whatever -- both he and I are totally fine with what I'm doing now. I just want to make sure this aberration isn't a health concern worth taking to a doctor.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Hm, some kind of distal megacolon? A very short rectum? I'd ask my MD just because it's so damn intriguing sounding. Sorry, but I think that non-disease anatomical variants are cool. If you do go to a doc just to find out, I understand why this might all be difficult to explain, but at the end I bet that her mind would start working similarly.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:59 AM on December 4, 2007

Going only from experience, I'd say what you describe is not at all uncommon. I think your efforts at cleanliness might be aided by an enema bulb. Use small amounts of warm water, without trying to hold it in. You're only trying to clean out your rectum. Easier and more comfortable than direct-digital manipulation.

That being said, all advice I've ever heard has suggested that, absent a serious need or desire for this activity, it is something best left unexplored. Mind, such advice I've read was not directed at women, about which I know almost nothing.
posted by Goofyy at 7:08 AM on December 4, 2007

I don't know why I remember this (OK, it was because I read it when I was younger and didn't know such things went on), but a long time ago a friend and I found a stash of "gentlemen's" magazines in the basement of her new house. There was an interview with some porn star about anal sex, and among her handy household tips was to always clean, um, things out with an enema bulb before proceeding. So I'm guessing your situation is not uncommon.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2007

It could be constipation. Having regular bowel movements isn't necessarily a sign that you don't have it.

Get more fruit into your diet, but don't sweat it. It's much more common than people realise. After all, how many of us stick our fingers into our rectums after a bowel movement "just to check"?
posted by Rabulah at 11:13 AM on December 4, 2007

Corn is a food widely noted as being visible in feces.

How long after eating does it take to show up in a stool? That's a good indicator of how fast your food gets digested. To a certain extent, the faster the better. The faster your digestive tract works, the harder it works. Think of it as being similar to a muscle - the more you exercise it, the better it is. It's quite possible that stools can be kept in the system for a couple of days, only being "pushed out" when more food is introduced at the start of the system.

Doing the corn test will tell you how long the food is in there for.
posted by Rabulah at 11:56 AM on December 4, 2007

This seems like a common deal. I remember a gay friend telling me that he gave up anal sex because he got tired of his {member} smelling like {human excrement}.

Another point. It's laudable that you are willing to give this a go, but, if, at some point you find it's not your cuppa tea (or sumthin') I hope that you give yourself permission to say so, and that bf does not overly pressure you on it.
posted by Danf at 3:46 PM on December 4, 2007

I am not an expert, but this is what has to say about the rectum:

"The rectum is about eight inches long and serves, basically, as a warehouse for poop. It hooks up with the sigmoid colon to the north and with the anal canal to the south.

"The rectum has little shelves in it called transverse folds. These folds help keep stool in place until you're ready to go to the bathroom. When you're ready, stool enters the lower rectum, moves into the anal canal, and then passes through the anus on its way out."

So I suspect your original sources ("feces isn't stored in the rectum") are wrong. Certainly based on the first person responses to your question I'd think you need new anal sex manuals (they make manuals for that?).
posted by porlockian at 6:37 PM on December 4, 2007

Seconding Porlockian, I think the real problem here is you using an anal sex manual to advise you on medical matters. FWIW your situation sounds normal to me.
posted by SpacemanRed at 4:48 AM on December 5, 2007

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