Rectal bleeding


Rectal bleeding
Rectal bleeding

A small amount of one-off bleeding from the bottom is not usually a serious problem. But a GP can check.

Check if you're bleeding from the bottom

You might be bleeding from the bottom if you have:

  • blood on your toilet paper
  • red streaks on the outside of your poo
  • pink water in the toilet bowl
  • blood in your poo or bloody diarrhoea
  • very dark, smelly poo (this can be blood mixed in poo)

A small amount of one-off bleeding can often go away on its own without needing treatment.

See a GP if:

  • your child has blood in their poo
  • you have had blood in your poo for 3 weeks
  • your poo has been softer, thinner or longer than normal for 3 weeks
  • you're in a lot of pain around the bottom
  • you've a pain or lump in your tummy
  • you've been more tired than usual
  • you've lost weight for no reason

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from 111 if:

  • your poo is black or dark red
  • you have bloody diarrhoea for no obvious reason

Go to A&E or call 999 if:

  • you're bleeding non-stop
  • there's a lot of blood - for example, the toilet water turns red or you see large blood clots

Find your nearest A&E.

What happens at your GP appointment

The GP will check what's causing your symptoms.

They might:

  • check your bottom (rectum) with a gloved finger (rectal examination)
  • ask for a sample of poo for testing
  • refer you to a specialist for tests

Bowel cancer risk

Bleeding from the bottom is sometimes a sign of bowel cancer.

This is easier to treat if it's found early, so it's important to get it checked.

Common causes of bleeding from the bottom

If you have other symptoms, this might give you an idea of the cause.

Do not self-diagnose. See a GP if you're worried.

Bright red blood on toilet paper, streaks on poo, pink toilet water

Blood in poo or blood with slime

Poo can look like it's mixed with blood if you've eaten a lot of red or purple foods like tomatoes and beetroot.

But it's sometimes a sign of something else. A GP can check if you're worried.

  • Blood and yellow slime when pooing, irritated anus, non stop bottom pain. Possible cause: anal fistula
  • Bloody diarrhoea with clear slime, feeling and being sick. Possible cause: tummy bug (gastroenteritis)
  • Bloody diarrhoea, tummy cramps and pain, feeling bloated. Possible cause: an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • Blood in poo. Possible cause: bleeding in the anus, bowel or lower gut from injury or another problem
  • Blood in poo, change in pooing habits (like looser poo, diarrhoea or constipation), slime with poo. Possible causes: bowel polyps, early signs of bowel cancer

Very dark or black blood or poo

Poo can look very dark or black if you:

  • take iron tablets
  • eat a lot of dark foods like liquorice and blueberries

But it's sometimes a sign of something else. A GP can do a test to check this if you're worried.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 04/09/2023 11:30:40