What Causes Mucus in the Bowel Movement?

Mucus, a translucent, jelly like substance that appears in the stool is produced by mucous glands that line the small and large intestine.

Mucus in Otherwise Normal Bowel Movements

Certain amount of mucus is regularly present in normal stools in healthy persons. Mucus in normal semi-soft stools may appear in bellow conditions:

Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids are common cause of mucus in the stool. Mucus is usually not mixed with the stool. Other typical symptoms in hemorrhoids are:

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites, like giardia or intestinal worms, may appear with mucus in stools as the only symptom. Other symptoms may include:

Diagnosis. Stool test shows parasites, their parts, or their ova. Blood test shows increased eosinophils and IgE antibodies.

Small Intestinal or Colonic Polyps or Colorectal Cancer

Mucus in stools may be sometimes the only symptoms in small or large intestinal polyps or cancer.

Mucus in Constipation

Mucus in hard stools may be due to:

  • Constipation due to inactivity, insufficient water intake, medications, low-fiber diet, anxiety, depression or other causes
  • Bowel obstruction from a polyp, cancer, volvulus, intussusception, or swallowed foreign object

Mucous Diarrhea

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

In many cases, the cause of mucus in stools (or diarrhea) no underlying disorder can be identified, and a diagnosis of an IBS is given to affected person. IBS is considered to be caused by stress and irritating foods. Foods to avoid in IBS.

Food Poisoning

In food poisoning (due to bacteria or parasites), besides diarrhea and occasional mucus, the following is common:

  • History of suspicious food eaten in previous 72 hours; other persons who had eating the same food are affected
  • Bloating, abdominal cramps, occasional fever or, rarely, blood in the stool

Mucus and greenish diarrhea is common in infection with parasite giardia.

“Food Intolerances”

Mucus often appears in stool in:

Diagnosis is made by elimination diet and/or breath tests.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Bacteria may overgrow in small intestine in fructose malabsorption, diabetes, systemic sclerosis, and other disorders with impaired gut motility. More about SIBO.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

In Crohn’s disease (especially when anal fissure or pelvic abscess are present), and ulcerative colitis, mucus in bowel movements (with or without diarrhea) is common. Other common findings in IBD:

Diagnosis of IBD is made by colonoscopy and biopsy of colonic mucosa.

Diverticulitis

In diverticulitis, inflamed (usually infected) pouches appear in colon, mostly due to long term straining at defecation in constipated people. Beside mucus, other symptoms include:

Pancreatic Disease

Mucus in the stool may appear in the following pancreatic disorders:

  • Papillary-mucinous tumor (rare)

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, where salivary, bronchial, sweat, intestinal glands, and pancreas secrete excessive amount of dense mucus. Symptoms include:

  • Mucous diarrhea from birth
  • Coughing mucus
  • Repeating respiratory or other infections

Diagnosis is made by a sweat test that shows increased amount of salt in the sweat.

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

After operation, where a considerable amount of small intestine was removed, mucous diarrhea may appear, and persist for long periods, especially in small children. More about short bowel syndrome.

Related Articles:

About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer
  • Jess77

    Hi
    I’ve had diarrhea and cramps all week. I’ve suffered from IBS in the past but it was only occasionally and its never lasted this long (only one bad bowel motion then ok). If I don’t eat I’m ok, but when I attempt to eat it comes back again. i’ve not had a normal bowel movement all week.
    Today the diarrhea had what looked like stringy mucous mixed in it.
    I am also ovulating so am not sure if some of that came from my vagina.
    What do I do? If it is from my bowel what could it mean? I’m feeling quite anxious about it. Thanks

  • Jan Modric

    Jess77,

    bacterial food poisoning usually resolves within a week, but intestinal parasites typically last longer and can cause mucus in the stool. Mucus with abdominal cramps could be also from small intestinal bacaterial overgrowth, fructose malabsorption and Crohn’s disease. If symptoms don’t resolve in few days, I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist. You would probably know, if your previous ovulations caused “cramps”.

  • teenmom

    i am 18 years old and 39 weeks pregnant , i have been having pain like diahrea but the stools are just soft with mucus and sometimes there is just dark yellow jelly that comes out with spots of blood ..for the past week this has been happening , is something wrong with me?

  • Jan Modric

    teenmom,

    I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist, who can order a stool test. They can be intestinal parasites, or bowel inflammation, for example.

  • reynolda

    Hi Jan,

    I’m a 26 year old female and I’ve been experiencing a jelly-like clear/brownish translucent mucus in my stools for the past 4 days. I have also been suffering from abdominal cramping that feels like bloating/gas. This feeling only happens after I eat something- I feel normal in the morning, but begin feeling bloated after breakfast and the feeling intensifies after meals, but seems to subside after I haven’t eaten for 3 hours.

    At the time this all began I had just gone on a family vacation to a river in Oregon. There were lots of mosquitoes around, but we were staying in a house, rather than camping. My relatives’ 4 dogs were also with us.

    Any thoughts as to what might be wrong? Thank you!

  • Jan Modric

    reynolda,

    your symptoms and the fact that they started after a travel suggest intestinal parasites. Stool test for parasites ordered by a gastroenterologist is available. The other possibility is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that can sometimes develop after stress, travel, change of diet.

    High-fat foods triggering symptoms would speak for intestinal or gallbladder disorder, symptoms after high-fructose foods (fruits, HFCS) would speak for fructose malabsorption, symptoms after dairy for lactose intolerance…Here are more causes of abdominal bloating and gas described.

  • JOHANNA

    All of today I have had a bloated stomach and been in need of passing gas. I just went to the bathroom (around 2300) for the first time in about 9-10 hours and my underwear was drenched in a yellowish clear mucus. When I wiped there was even more (from my anus). Also my vagina has been sore today, like it feels like I’ve recently had sex with someone of considerable size which I haven’t. I’m 16, female, haven’t felt like vomitting, haven’t had a loss in appetite. I really have no idea what this is. Would really appreciate your help.

  • Jan Modric

    JOHANNA,

    suddenly occuring excessive bloating and gas is often due to dietary causes: large amount of vegetables or other food high in soluble dietary fiber, dairy (in lactose intolerance), faty-sugary foods, fruits, soda with HFCS, honey (in fructose malabsorption) or food poisoning with intestinal parasites. Bacterial food poisoning is usually present with obvious diarrhea, but in parastic food poisoning bloating, gas and mucus may be the only symptoms. Think, if you have eaten excessive amounts of fruits or dairy or something other…otherwise, if no relief in few days, I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist and ask about stool tests for parasites.

  • lilmommaof2

    Hello, I am 31 weeks pregnant, and the last day I have been passing nothing but mucous instead of a BM. It is brownish color, or has streaks of brown, also some streaks of blood in it. Also has a “sick” smell to it. Do you know what could be possibly causing this? Its the weekend and I have had no way of talking to my doctor about this. Thank you.

  • nikki205

    i just been have this urgency of diarrhea but everytime i go to the toilet nothing comes out but a brownish yellowish particles with a stringy slime. can someone help me?

  • Jan Modric

    lilmommaof2,

    it coold be a food poisoning with bacteria or intestinal parasites. Your doctor might suggest a stool test.

  • Jan Modric

    nikki205,

    they could be intestinal parasites. I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist and ask for a stool test.

  • Jabb

    Hi

    I have had diarrhoea for about a week, it started out quite intense then started to go away and then came back again, and my BM’s are light yellowish in colour, they look kind of fluffy and there are almost white blobs in them and i notice when I wipe that it is yellowish jelly-like. there may be small amounts of blood but I am menstruating so can’t rule that out completely.. i’m 21 yrs of age and female… any ideas? also have been having a bit of a sore stomach and when I go to the toilet it is definitely quite gassy. and have been going to the toilet a lot more frequently than usual.
    thankyou

  • Jan Modric

    Jabb,

    a stool test for blood and fat and parasites would narrow down possible causes. I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist.

  • rinaz

    after bowel movement i still feel bloated and so when i have another bowel movement its just mucus that comes out some clear some pale white.

  • Jan Modric

    rinaz,

    if you think mucus is worse after certain foods, like fruits, you can read more about fructose malabsorption (link in the article). One possible cause are intestinal parasites – diagnosis is with a stool test for parasites.

  • prego_mom

    Hi, I’m 28 years old, and 2.5 months pregnant with my second child. I’ve never had hayfever before but for the first time in my life had hayfever symptoms about 1.5 months ago.
    Then about a month ago I started having very bad gas problems, feeling like little explosions going on inside my intestines. Then all of my BM’s turned to diarrhea and has been this way for the past 2.5 weeks. It’s been very difficult as I’m dealing with morning sickness (from being pregnant) and diarrhea. I started just having mucus BM’s as well as I have not been eating much because of the diarrhea.
    I went to the doctor and they did parasitic and bacterial tests on a stool sample which came back negative.
    I’ll also note that my son has had diarrhea for the past… 3 months as well.
    Please help, I was really hoping it was a bacterial infection because there’s a cure but now that they came back negative I don’t know what to think?!

  • bernard azubike

    pls help,i start having internal heat,and after i have stomake noise and letter i loss appertite and start haveing digestion problem,and always see mucus in my bowel,with always fell fatige. pls what medication do i take?

  • Jan Modric

    prego_mom,

    bacterial food poisoning usually heals on its own within a week, but parasitic infection may last for weeks or months. Stool tests for parasites are sometimes false negative, so maybe both you and your son could have stool tests for parasites again. Parasites may cause an allergic-like reaction with hives…My first thought was food allergy, but then you mentioned your son has also diarrhea.

  • Jan Modric

    bernard azubike,

    a stool test can reveal intestinal parasites. In any case, I recommend you to visit a gastroenterologist.

  • prego_mom

    Hi Jan,

    No hive like symptoms at all. Any other idea’s? Im grappling here.

  • Jan Modric

    prego_mom,

    I’ve mentioned hives, since I was assuming you’ve had it along with hay fever. Hives (only) sometimes occur in intestinal parasites, so I’ve connected the two. Symptoms you’ve mentioned speak for something happening in your bowel. Your son having symptoms at the same time speak for an infection, and since bacterial and viral gastrointestinal infections usually last lest than a week, I’ve thought parasitic infection could be the cause.

    Non-infectious causes of excessive gas and diarrhea:
    – food intolerances, such as fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance, food allergies. Avoiding problematic foods (low-fructose, or lactose-free or gluten free diet trial, or avoiding eventual foods that cause allergy would reveal the cause).
    – disorders of the small intestine (Crohn’s or celiac disease), liver, gallbladder, bile duct or pancreas resulting in reduced absorption of certain nutrients. These disorders can be suspected from abnormal levels of liver enzymes and certain other substances in the blood.

    Again, stool tests for parasites are often false negative, so one option is to ask for this test again. I do not recommend you any non-prescribed anti-parasitic drugs, though. Another option is to have some abovementioned diet trials.

  • danm

    Jan, could it be that she has some kind of virus or something like that? (no offense meant here, but the clap or Gonr or hiv? These virus’s also cause diarehha dont they? Im not an expert but a friend of mine also had same problem and was told this might be a similar problem.

  • Jan Modric

    danm,

    I’ve listed only causes that can explain her and her son’s diarrhea occurring at about the same time and lasting 3+months. I can’t exclude anything, though.

  • Prego_mom

    What really? I should ask my doctor to check for stds then too?

  • Schedule

    Best you should make changes to the post name What Causes Mucus in the Bowel Movement? | Healthhype.com to something more suited for your blog post you write. I liked the blog post nevertheless.

  • Jan Modric

    Schedule,

    what’s wrong with the post title?

  • SammySmith

    Hi,

    I am a 33 year old male and have this mucus discharge from the anus for a few years now like almost 10 years. I was very embarrased to discuss it with anyone including my doctor.
    Last year i discussed it with my doctor and he has ordered various tests but unable to diagnose anything.
    Also had a colonoscopy done and there was nothing unusual.
    I tried making changes to my diet as I did think I was suffering from IBS etc and tried various diets.

    I have suffered from constipation since I was a teenager and not its gone really bad as there’s a discharge when i wake up in the morning. Its clear and there’s no smell to it. If i am unable to empty my bowel then there would be a few more times the discharge will be there. Its noticeable only if I am sitting on a chair and can smell due to the wetness and me sitting for a long time.
    I also get bloating due to that and even the bloating is visible.
    Sometimes if I pass wind and then the discharge won’t happen but it can be a problem to even do that at times.
    I have difficulty emptying my bowel a 100% and only can do utpo 99% most of the times. The discharge is ok by after 6pm usually and i am ok for the night.
    I have no other problems and a perfectly healthy male.
    Often when the discharge happens I have this uncomfortable feeling in my legs and the bottom of my feet but I cant do anything to stop it. I try to contract my pelvic floor muscles but because the bowel is not 100% empty its very uncomfortable.
    I have changed from my previous doctors and they tell me its nothing serious but the discomfort is getting too much as for the last week, its been itching as well and I would appreciate all help.

    Thanks,
    Sammy

  • Jan Modric

    Sammy,

    which exact diets have you already tried, and do you think there’s more mucus and bloating after eating dairy, or fruits, or grains the previous day?

    Have you tried
    a low-fructose diet (in case you have fructose malabsorption, it should help in few days)
    a low-FODMAP diet (a combination of low fructose and lactose-free diet) This may help in IBS.

    If this does not help, you can ask a gastroenterologist about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

  • SammySmith

    Hi Jan,

    Thankyou for replying.

    I have tried pretty much everything.
    Tried lactose free diet.
    Tried gluten free diet.
    tried vegetarian diet.
    no fruits.
    high carb and vegetable diet.

    I also tried all of them together by giving up dairy and gluten at the same time.

    The problem I believe occurs from unability to empty bowel completely as there’s always a feeling of unemptiness which causes bloating and hence the mucus. the remaining stool is normally the size of a chick pea which I struggle with.

    I will keep a diary and see what happens the next day but do you see any other causes?? I appreciate your help.

    Regards,
    Sammy

  • Jan Modric

    Sammy,

    would you say when you manage to empty your bowel completely, there’s no bloating and mucus in the morning? Diverticles or a polyp in the rectum could cause incomplete bowel emptying, and hemorrhoids could possibly give the same feeling; mucus can be also associated with hemorrhoids. A colonoscopy should clearly reveal all of these, though.

    Drinking sufficient amount of water and maintaining soft stools by including soluble fiber in your diet can prevent constipation.

  • SammySmith

    Hi Jan,

    Yes, when I empty the bowel completely, I do not have bloating or any mucus.
    My colonoscopy did reveal a couple of polyps but ruled out anything serious or the cause of discharge.
    I am so confused as to what the cause may be.

  • Jan Modric

    Sammy,

    where exactly were the polyps found? Were any samples of the polyps taken (biopsy) during the colonoscopy, and if yes, what was said to be their nature? Polyps can both secrete mucus and, if large, partially block the colon (rectum), what could cause the problem with emptying the bowel. Polyps may occur in certain hereditary disorders, in Crohn’s disease, or as an abnormal overgrowth of the colonic mucosa which could develop into a colorectal cancer with time. Except of certain hereditary types, colorectal cancer at 33 is extremely rare, though. I’m not aware of existence of any “normal” colonic polyps, so I recommend you to go through your medical documentation to find out any doctor’s comments about the polyps.

    Mucus, when staying in the bowel overnight can be broken down by normal intestinal bacteria, resulting in bloating, as you already know. It’s quite possible mucus is secreted by the polyps.

  • SammySmith

    Hmmm. Thanks Jan this is really helpful. I will go back to my Gastro and consult regarding that and take it from there.

    Will be in touch and really appreciate your help.

    Sammy

  • cj85

    i am 25 years of age.i am 5 months pregant.i have been having pains at the bottom and sides of my stomach.this last few days my bowel movements has ben loose with mucus.i feel like im loaded with the cold but i dont have the cold.is this all normal.

  • Jan Modric

    cj85,

    it does not sound normal to me. A gastroenterologist can order a stool test for parasites or bacteria or some other test.

  • Sharon

    I am a 42 year old woman and whilst I have several “heat attacks” since 12 years old, it recently seems to have intensified i.e

    Sudden extreme abdominal pains (now back pain too), immediate rush to the loo, followed by extreme heat to the head to the point of near collapse. I have to quickly down a few glasses of ice water and cool off my entire body (cold shower or cloth dab) before I go into a hyperventiliating state then followed by smelly unformed stools. This normally happens four times in a year and last the most 3 hours until the last attack which went on for the entire night. Test results reveal all is well with my blood. However, mucus and occult blood found in stool sample. I had a colonscopy 2 years ago – no problems deteected. This time – Doctor says no need to worry. Something tells me otherwise? Help! Sharon

  • Jan Modric

    Sharon,

    I can’t offer you any solution in the situation where I have no idea where those dramatic heat episodes originate from.

    Few possible causes:
    Allergy to certain food
    Intestinal parasites
    Carcinoid syndrome (usually due to a small bowel tumor that secretes certain substances that may cause skin flushing and hyperventilation)
    Occasional excessive secretion of thyroid hormones or adrenaline due to a certain thyroid or suprarenal gland disorder.

    I recommend you to discuss about above possibilities with your doctor. Blood and mucus speak for a gastrointestinal problem, so you can discuss about having an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Colonoscopy does not usually detect intestinal parasites and carcinoid tumor.

  • gkuche

    Jan, I have a really strange one. My 4 year old son is pooping a lot of mucus. It is clear/brownish and sometimes is clear/pink/red. His stool is green and the mucus has a fishy smell to it. He is happy as a lark other than this. He has had a few accident’s in his underwear when he passes gas. It is usually just clear smelly mucus. He has no fever, no abdominal pain. He has a done of energy and couldn’t be any happier. One thing of concern for me is he had a really bad episode of this 5 months ago after we returned from a trip to Florida. He had water diarrhea in the airport and couldn’t even make it to the bathroom. From that day on, he had stomach pain when he went to the restroom, mucus (sometimes with blood) and was going to the bathroom 20 times a day with mostly mucus coming out. This went on for 2 weeks! I was giving him probiotic and yogurt every day and this is what seemed to finally clear it up or else it ran its course. He has been doing good until this recent episode except for having green well formed stools. Thanks for any advice.

  • gkuche

    One more thing, my stomach is so sick over this. I of course worry about cancer or something scary because I know this is not normal. I am a worrier and I will say that I have had stool with this fishy mucus before, but not as much mucus as he has come on and not with blood in it. He is having stool cultures done right now. Thanks again for any advice. Can kids this young have IBS?

  • Jan Modric

    gkuche,

    blood in the stool excludes IBS. My first thought were intestinal parasites. Stool tests for parasites are often false negative – in this case you can discuss with a doctor about repeating the test. Bowel cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis in small children are extremely rare. The fact that you’ve also had mucus in the stool, to me, speak in favor of intestinal parasites.

  • gkuche

    Thanks Jan. There is not blood in my son’s stool, but rather blood or a pinkish red tinge in the mucus. I was thinking this may be from the bowel/colon being irritated. Could IBS cause this? Thanks!

  • Jan Modric

    gkuche,

    in an irritable bowel syndrome, the bowel does not get irritated to the point where it would start to bleed. Bleeding is also not common in food intolerances or mild food poisoning, or “stomach flu” (viral gastroenteritis). Intestinal parasites or a certain bowel disorder are more likely, so I really recommend you to take your son to the doctor.

  • 22 female worried

    Hi, I’m a 22 year old female, a few months ago i started noticing mucus in my bowel movements, some attached to my stool and normally some on its own before passing the stool. It was sort of a beige or yellowish colour. I have never had any medical problems before other then i always tended to go between constipation..(not severe or anything) and what i think to be pretty regualr bowel movements..not hard to pass and not diarrhea, the mucus didn’t really bother me so i wasn’t really worried about it. Lately though i noticed it became slightly tinted to pink.making me pay more attention and now there is streaks of blood in it…sometimes if feels like i need to have a bowel movement but when i go to the washroom all i pass is mucus and blood…when i do pass stool though it is still hard forms, not at all like diarrhea at all…sometimes i have an urgent feeling to use the washroom but like i said no diarrhea, i have notice that my symptoms become worse just before and during my period. I have been looking online for possible causes for such symptoms but nothing really seems to make sense..for my age it seems very unlikely to be cancer, ulcerative colitis seems possible..but yet at the same time not..because i don’t have severe or hardly cramps at all and it is not diarrhea, i just wondering if anyone has some ideas of what this could be..can internal hemorrhoids cause symptoms like this? i know i need to go see my doctor, but i would like to go with some ideas in mind as to what the most likely cause of this could be..any comments would be appreciated

  • Jan Modric

    22 female worried,

    a combination of bleeding, mucus, constipation and urgency is not typical enough to narrow down the possible causes to one single disorder, but I’ll try to explain some circumstances:

    – internal hemorrhoids can produce translucent and non-smelly mucus. They can bleed when they rupture; in this case there would be obvious blood in the toilet and on the tissue. A gastroenterologist can use a short tube with a light (an anoscope) to check for internal hemorrhoids.
    – intestinal parasites can cause various combinations of bleeding and mucus (which often smells badly); absence of other symptoms, like diarrhea does not exclude parasites. A stool test is needed for diagnosis.
    – endometriosis (abnormal growth of the uterine mucosal tissue within the bowel) could cause bleeding and mucus. I’ve mentioned this, since you’ve said symptoms are worse before and during periods what typically occurs in endometriosis. A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy with biopsy would be needed for diagnosis.

    – in ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease a combination of ulcers and polyps could result in bleeding and mucus, but also likely in diarrhea and general symptoms of sickness, such as tiredness, low-grade fever and poor appetite.
    – celiac disease severe enough to cause bleeding would also likely cause diarrhea and other symptoms

    Colorectal cancer is extremely rare at 22, especially if there is no family history of other young family members ever having this cancer.
    In IBS, constipation or diarrhea is typically triggered by meals and relieved by bowel movements.
    Food intolerances themselves do not likely cause bleeding.

  • 22 female worried

    thanks Jan,

    i really appreciate your reply, from what you described i think it sounds more like a parasite of some sort…i just hadn’t thought that possible because i thought that diarrhea would have to be present for it to be a parasite. The blood is bright red and like i said no fever, loss of appetite, weight loss or fatigue really so that is also why i’m thinking not ulcerative colitis or crohn’s . what kind of treatment if it was a parasite would be needed?

    thanks again for you post..it put my mind at ease until i can get to see my doctor

  • Jan Modric

    22 female worried,

    prescribed oral antiparasitic medication either in one dose or as a few days course is prescribed by a doctor. Various remedies are usually either not safe or not effective.

  • 21 male embarrassed

    My anus hurts, itches, and stings when i wipe. If i squat over a mirror and spread it, i can see 2 tit like bumps with white heads. it seems if i itch it Socrates a clear watery liquid. Ive looked up a bunch of possibilities like hypertrophied anal papilla or fistulas or polyps. what do you think? and is there anything i can do to relive pain and or discomfort? Thank You.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi 21 Male Embarrassed

    You may find a list of causes under this article – http://www.healthhype.com/itchy-rectum-and-anus-causes-and-treatment.html

    There is no reason to suspect a fistula or polyp just yet. Hemorrhoids and anal fissures are more common causes but you should see a doctor who can examine the area. It is difficult to advise on any measures to relieve these symptoms without it being diagnosed. Your doctor will be able to advise your further on the appropriate treatment.

  • Dominique_Gay

    Hi! I’m a 25 year old, gay guy. About two weeks ago, my boyfriend of two years, and I didn’t use protection for the first time.

    Now, I’m passing this whiteish/brown mucus. I have false alarms of defecations, and I experiencing a dull pain and a slight burning sensation within my rectum.

    Thinking it’s hemorrhoids, I went out and bought the cream. It helps with the uncomfortability. Could this be hemorrhoids I am enduring?