The topic of rectal bleeding or hematochezia as it is medically known, is something that can make most of us squeamish, and while most causes are not serious or life threatening, any rectal bleeding that you experience is deserving of attention and investigation as to the causal factors. We look at why:
Rectal bleeding can vary from scant to severe; can manifest itself in blackish to tarry stools, maroon stools or bright red blood along with a bowel movement that may be as little as a few drops on the toilet tissue to may be enough to turn the water in the toilet bowl fully red.
Rectal bleeding among women can be due to a number of different reasons:
- The most common factors that cause rectal bleeding are anal fissures or hemorrhoids and similar ano-rectal disorders.
- Infection in a section of the large intestine, such as dysentery can also cause rectal bleeding in which case the bleeding could be darker red or maroon, and may be part of the actual stool.
- If the blood is darker in color, brown or black and/or resembling tar, it could be caused by a disorder higher up in the gastrointestinal tract or even the stomach. This could be caused by the swallowing of a foreign object that has caused injury to the stomach lining or due to bleeding ulcers, or Mallory-Weiss tears, which are cuts or ruptures of the vessels in the lining of the food pipe or stomach. These are usually caused by prolonged or forceful vomiting
- Polyps are another reason why rectal bleeding could occur. Polyps are lumps of tissue that bulge outward from the colon’s lining. There may be bleeding from large polyps. While many polyps can actually be harmless, some may be far more serious and may be precancerous. Polyps do not always cause bleeding however; in fact there is bleeding only in about 20% cases.
- Similarly, in the case of tumors of the colon and rectum as well, bleeding is not very common and may only be slow, in small amounts and of chronic nature. Tumors, both benign as well as malignant, may be cause of rectal bleeding.
- Trauma can be another cause for rectal bleeding, which is almost always a very serious concern. This may be an actual physical wound resulting from injury or insertion of foreign object: it can result in severe infection, and rapid and large amounts of blood loss. This may require urgent investigation and specialized care.