Leaky Anus (Anal Leakage) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

We never expect stool or urine to be expelled unless we want to purposely evacuate it. The act of passing urine or passing stool is usually controlled to the point where we can get to a toilet and relieve ourselves. Sometimes accidents do happen when a person has a bowel disease but this is usually short-lived. With advancing age the chances of having ‘accidents’ increases and can be due to a chronic ailment. However, when small volumes of stool stain the undergarments without an actual bowel movement or urging to pass stool then it is important to investigate it further.

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What is anal leakage?

Anal leakage is a colloquial term for fecal incontinence. It is also sometimes referred to as a leaky anus. Most people understand fecal incontinence. It is a condition where the feces uncontrollably leak out of the anus. In severe cases it can become a complete loss of bowel control. However, anal leakage goes a bit further in that it may include other discharges such as fluid that does not seem to be liquid feces, mucus and sometimes even blood.

While the source of feces, the origin of these other fluids can be perplexing. It is not always clear if the fluid, mucus or blood may be originating from the anus as it may not always have the strong offensive odor of feces. The causes and treatment of anal leakage can vary significantly. Often the cause of anal leakage is not serious but more of an embarrassment. However, given that sometimes it can occur in conditions like cancer it is important to have it assessed by a medical professional.

toilet paper

Causes of Anal Leakage

The term anal leakage would imply that the rectal contents are leaking out through the anus. However, fluid and mucus in the buttock area may not always be originating from the anus.

Feces

Fecal incontinence is the main condition where feces may leak out of the anus. The condition can vary from occasional episodes where feces leak out of the anus to complete loss of bowel control. In the latter a person may have a full bowel movement in their undergarments despite attempting to restrain themselves. Fecal incontinence may be caused by:

  • Severe gastroenteritis.
  • Chronic constipation, particularly where there is fecal impaction.
  • Severe hemorrhoids.
  • Bowel conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Anatomical anomalies of the rectum and anus since birth (congenital anorectal anomalies).
  • Gynecological injuries during childbirth or after a hysterectomy.
  • Nerve disorders like diabetic neuropathy, spinal cord injury, stroke, nerve injury to the anus following surgery, dementia and multiple sclerosis.

Sometimes feces may be found in the undergarments due to incomplete wiping and cleaning after a bowel movement. Remnants of feces may still be present around the anus and then soil the undergarments over time. This soiling is not considered to be anal leakage but rather an issue with personal hygiene.

Fluid and Mucus

Fluid and mucus that does not seem to originate from the anus could be perspiration and discharge from the genitalia. Mucus may also originate from the genitalia and be mistaken for anal leakage. However, when the fluid or mucus seems to have arisen from the rectum or anus then the following conditions could be the cause:

  • Anal fissures
  • Celiac disease
  • Colorectal cancer or anal cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fecal impaction
  • Food intolerance like lactose intolerance
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Proctitis
  • Rectal ulcers

Although mucus may be produced and passed out in the stool with these conditions, anal leakage may not necessarily be present in every case. Read more on mucus in the bowel movement.

Blood

Any sign of blood in the stool or blood with anal leakage is a concern. However, it may not always be due to serious conditions. Bleeding from the rectum or anus can occur for many of the same reasons as discussed above. Hemorrhoids is by far one of the most common causes for bleeding from the anus. The bleeding may occur internally within the digestive tract or from the exterior like the anus or buttock.

Although bleeding is not considered as a life-threatening condition when it occurs with common conditions like hemorrhoids, it is important to remember that bleeding from the anus may also occur with cancers of the bowel. For this reason bleeding with anal leakage should not be ignored. Bleeding from the lower parts of the gut may appear as fresh blood but when it occurs higher up in the gut then it may cause black tarry stools known as melena.

Other Signs and Symptoms

A leaky anus is a symptom that may occur along with other symptoms. Some of the other symptoms that may also be present includes:

There are many other symptoms that may also occur along with anal leakage and it largely depends on the underlying cause.

toilet bowl

Treatment of Anal Leakage

The treatment for anal leakage and vary significantly dependent on the cause of the leaking. It may require the use of topical applications, oral medication or even surgery. There is no single treatment that can be applied to all causes of anal leakage. Therefore it is important for anal leakage to be assessed by a medical practitioner and various diagnostic investigations to be conducted if necessary. Treatment can then be prescribed once the underlying cause is diagnosed.

Some of the non-surgical treatments include:

  • Fecal incontinence: antidiarrheal drugs, laxatives, enemas for fecal impaction, diet and exercises.
  • Hemorrhoids: hydrocortisone ointments and other applications, oral pain relievers, sitz bath and lifestyle changes.
  • Gastroenteritis: supportive measures like bed rest and rehydration till the diarrhea resolves, antidiarrheal medication, antibiotics.
  • Constipation: Fiber supplements, stool softeners and other laxatives, dietary changes and exercise.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressants, antidiarrheal medication, antibiotics, pain relievers.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: antidiarrheals or laxatives, antispasmodic medication, drugs to slow down bowel motility, antibiotics, antidepressants, fiber supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes.

These are just some of the medication, dietary and lifestyle changes that may be used in the treatment of these conditions that can lead to a leaky anus. However, the exact prescription should be determined by a medical professional after a clinical examination and any necessary diagnostic investigations.

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

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  • Nancy P.

    I’m surprised the article doesn’t mention body pads which is a much simpler solution compared to medication. Butterfly Body Pads.

  • Hi Nancy. As you may have noticed we discussed the treatment of the underlying conditions. Bowel pad/liners are a measure to prevent soiling of the underwear while the condition persists. It is a supportive measure for managing life with the condition. However, the focus should still be on treating the underlying cause so that the leakage can resolve.

  • sally

    My partner is suffering with a mucus leakage, he has had piles banded and various other tests, nothing is helping, it’s just getting worse, no doctor seems to know what it is, so he’s not getting any help, anyone out there ever experienced this, advise needed.

  • sp

    perfectly fine ok working intestine then after using very strong antibiotics for bad ass infection of pilonidal cyst,an annoying problem of having bizzare poopy color secretion from Anus and vagina. it seems sth wet there sometimes during the day. it is stressful since i cant go check it with MRI. any idea? can intestine all of sudden because of antibiotics become inflamed do weird stuff?

  • Hi Sally. Mucus secretion from the anal and rectal area can occur for a number of reasons as you can see from the article above. Given his history with hemorrhoids, this is the more obvious cause. However, this could be related to other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and so on. Speak to another doctor for a second opinion.

  • Hi SP. Yes, it could. You may want to read up on pseudomembranous colitis, which is caused by antibiotic use. A certain type of bacteria overgrows and causes inflammation of the bowels. Antibiotics can also disrupt the internal environment within the vagina and lead to overgrowth of certain microbes normally found in the vagina. You need to see a doctor as soon as possible, and maybe follow up with a gastroenterologist/proctologist and gynecologist.

  • sp

    Thanks, since i got really no help from internet and i was also afraid of getting that bacteria i used crazy amount of yougert and probiotic pill one per day for one week ate 3 jar of home made pickled cucumber afraid where all those salt went!)and one jar of that stinky cabbage stuff. it seems close to normal now. i dont feel weird feel of wipe sth there and nothing abnormal about stool itself. i continue using more pro biotic products. not going to eat its pills everyday though.

  • ut

    sir i want a medicine for anus leakages like a liquid leakage from anus please help me for problem

  • Music

    Hi, I have a question. My bf is having itchy/ burning/mucus/ bleeding anus and tisticlar pain after being treated for STI. He’s STI free now but he now has these symptoms. Can anyone tell me what is could be?

  • Hi Music. It could be that the STI has recurred or he has been re-infected. The only way to know for sure is to follow up with a doctor. However, it is also possible that this is an entirely different condition from his previous STI. Further diagnostic investigations may be necessary to identify the exact cause.

  • JEANETTE FLETCHER

    I hope this helps you. I had a similar problem with not only leakage but not matter how much I wiped, poop would still smear my underwear all day forcing me to change 3-4 times daily. I mentioned this to the doctor who did my colonoscopy and he said it was because I didn’t have enough fiber in my diet. He said to get Metamucil, mix a heaping (and I say heaping) tablespoon in 8 oz of water. Mix it really fast and drink right away. Do not let it sit as it will become thick. I bought the orange flavor and it does take a little time to get used to the flavor but trust me, I had relief the very next day. If I forget to take it, then I have some leakage the next day. I try to take it in the morning after I have my coffee. The doctor said I would need to take this the rest of my life. He said he takes it, too. If one tablespoon doesn’t work for you, try taking it twice daily. I am so happy.

  • Hi Jeanette. Thank you for your input. Yes fiber can be helpful in these cases as it absorbs water and helps form soft and firm stools. This is particularly helpful where there is repeated loose and watery stools which often occurs with a diet low in fiber. Your recommendation would undoubtedly be helpful to other readers.