Anal discharge

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 20, 2017

What is anal discharge?

Rectal dischargealso sometimes referred to as anal discharge or leakage — is typically recognized as the nearly continuous flowing of liquid from the rectum through the anus.

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Can anal discharge be a symptom of an STD?

Yes. Getting tested regularly is the best way to stay up-to-date on your sexual health. If you are having unprotected sex or sex with a new partner, STD testing may be the right decision for you. Occasionally, anal discharge can be associated with diseases of the rectum and colon not related to STDs.

Most patients don’t know that anal discharge can be a symptom gonorrhea or chlamydia.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable with antibiotics if detected and treated early. As long as it’s treat in the early stages, long-term risks associated with gonorrhea and chlamydia are minimal.

Untreated STDs can cause long term health problems for patients, so it’s important to get tested if you believe you’re at risk.

Before you can discuss treatment options with a doctor, you need to get tested.

What are common symptoms associated with anal discharge?

Random and unexpected discharge from the rectum can be accompanied by a varied list of symptoms that may help you identify the source:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Abdominal swelling, distention or bloating
  • Bloody stool (blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
  • Burning feeling
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
  • Flatulence
  • Pain, which may be severe, in the abdomen, pelvis, or lower back
  • Urgent need to pass stool
  • Watery diarrhea including multiple episodes

What else can cause anal discharge?

There are multiple types of anal discharge. The type of discharge that most people are commonly familiar with is diarrhea. But there are also other types of discharge with which many patients are not as familiar, including pus, blood and fatty diarrhea.

The type of anal discharge most frequently associated with STDs is known as purulent discharge. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can often result in proctitis, an inflammation of the lining of the rectum. This inflammation is typically associated with the discharge of pus from the rectum.

Steatorrhoea, also known as 'fatty diarrhea', is a type of rectal discharge that is caused by excess fat in a patient's stool. Keriorrhea is an orange and oily rectal leakage that is caused when a patient has very high levels of escolar and oilfish in their diet.

Rectal discharge can also occur from a handful of other reasons, including an anal fissure, anal fistula, or other types of infections.

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