Whatever the cause, it’s never a welcome sight when there is blood involved when you go Number 2. Ranging in color from bright red to a tarry black, blood in your poop can be caused by a wide range of issues. Sometimes the change in color might not have even been caused by blood but by something you ate.
In this article, we will run through the various potential causes of blood in your stool, so you can start to get a handle on what is going on. We will say now, though, that if you’re worried, or the blood is a new occurrence that is accompanied by pain, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
What Are the Signs of Rectal Bleeding?
Rectal bleeding is the catch-all medical term for when you are bleeding from your bottom. It’s not really a cause in and of itself rather than a symptom of other potential conditions or diseases. There are a number of ways that you can check for this condition. You may be experiencing rectal bleeding if you notice any of the following:
- blood on your toilet paper
- pink water in the toilet
- poop with red streaks on the outside
- blood in your poop
- bloody diarrhea
- very dark and smelly poop
What Can Cause Bloody Poop?
One way or another, if you’ve found blood in your poop, on your toilet paper after you wipe, or in the water in the toilet bowl, you have been or currently are bleeding somewhere in your digestive system. The bleeding could be located anywhere from your stomach all the way to the outside of your anus, so diagnosing the actual cause can sometimes be a bit tricky.
One of the ways you can potentially work out the cause for the blood in your poop is by the color of the poop itself, as well as other symptoms that can be related to the issue.
Let’s go through what causes the various colors and accompanying symptoms, so you can start to get an idea of what’s going on. Though it’s worth saying that self-diagnosis is often imprecise, and if you are worried you should talk to your doctor.
Possible Cause – Anal Fissure (A Tear in the Anus)
Symptoms – bright red blood in the poop, especially after constipation
Possible Cause – Hemorrhoids
Symptoms – bright red blood in the poop, pain when pooping, itchy bum, lumps
Possible Cause – Side Effect from Blood-Thinning Medications (E.g. Aspirin or Warfarin) OR Angiodysplasia (Broken Blood Vessel in the Gut)
Symptoms – bright red blood in the poop without any pain
Possible Cause – Sexually Transmitted Infection (E.g. Genital warts) OR Damage from Anal Sex
Symptoms – fresh bleeding, both with or without pain, itching, or lumps
Possible Cause – Anal Fistula
Symptoms – blood and yellow slime while pooping, non-stop pain or irritation in the anus
Possible Cause – Gastroenteritis
Symptoms – bloody diarrhea with clear slime, nausea, vomiting
Possible Cause – Bleeding in Stomach, Intestines, Bowels, or Anus
Symptoms – blood in the poop
Possible Cause – Bowel Polyps OR Early Sign of Bowel Cancer
Symptoms – blood in the poop, a change to pooping habits (such as constipation, diarrhea, or looser poops), slime with the poop
Possible Cause – Bleeding in Stomach or Intestines OR Side Effect from Blood-thinning Medications
Symptoms – Dark or black poop
Possible Cause – Stomach Ulcer
Symptoms – dark or black poop, stomach pain or cramps, swollen belly, burping, heartburn, nausea
Possible Cause –Diverticular Disease or Diverticulitis
Symptoms – dark or black poop, stomach pain or cramps
Possible Cause – Side Effect from Blood-thinning Medications OR Angiodysplasia
Symptoms – dark or black poop with no accompanying pain
Other Possible Causes of Bright Red Blood in Your Poop
The diagnosis may not be so dire as you think. If you have recently been eating a lot of red or purple colored food, such as tomatoes, beetroots, cranberries, or foods containing artificial red coloring, then this can actually dye your poop as well as your urine. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but some people aren’t able to break down the pigment responsible, and so it is excreted from the body in the waste products.
Other Possible Causes of Dark or Black Poops
In another similar “you are what you eat” situation as above, if you’ve been eating dark-colored foods like licorice, blueberries, or beets, or drinking grape juice, then this can dye your poop a darker color too. Another cause could be taking iron supplements, as well as taking medicines for upset stomachs that contain bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol).
When Should You See A Doctor About Bloody Poops?
As mentioned above, if you’re feeling worried about any medical condition, you should always talk to your doctor rather than just relying on a diagnosis that you’ve made yourself.
You don’t necessarily need to jump the gun though, especially if you have to pay for your healthcare. A small amount of blood in your poop can often just be a short-term issue that will resolve itself without you having to get any treatment.
That having been said, there are a number of symptoms related to or coinciding with bloody poops that more directly indicate that you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
- If there’s been blood in your poop for 3 weeks
- If your poop has been thinner, longer, or softer than usual for 3 weeks
- A large amount of pain around your anus
- You have a pain or lump in your tummy
- Lower energy levels
- Unexplained weight loss
Sitting on the Edge of Your Seat
Finding blood in your poop, on your toilet paper, or seeing pinkish water in the toilet bowl can all be an unexpected and alarming experience, and it’s no surprise that it causes a considerable amount of concern when it happens. Often it will go away by itself if it’s just a small amount, but now that you know what can cause bloody poop, you should be able to work out if it’s a sign of a larger issue, and if you need to contact your doctor.