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Proctitis

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 26, 2024.

Overview

Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum. The rectum is a muscular tube that's connected to the end of your colon. Stool passes through the rectum on its way out of the body.

Proctitis can cause rectal pain, diarrhea, bleeding and discharge, as well as the continuous feeling that you need to have a bowel movement. Proctitis symptoms can be short-lived, or they can become chronic.

Proctitis is common in people who have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis). Sexually transmitted infections are another frequent cause. Proctitis also can be a side effect of radiation therapy for certain cancers.

Symptoms

Proctitis signs and symptoms may include:

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of proctitis.

Causes

Several diseases and conditions can cause inflammation of the rectal lining. They include:

Risk factors

Risk factors for proctitis include:

Complications

Proctitis that isn't treated or that doesn't respond to treatment may lead to complications, including:

Prevention

To reduce your risk of proctitis, take steps to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The surest way to prevent an STI is to abstain from sex, especially anal sex. If you choose to have sex, reduce your risk of an STI by:

If you're diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, stop having sex until after you've completed treatment. Ask your doctor when it's safe to have sex again.

Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose proctitis include:

Sigmoidoscopy exam

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, the provider inserts a sigmoidoscope into your rectum to check for abnormalities in your lower colon.

Colonoscopy

During a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a colonoscope into your rectum to check for abnormalities in your entire colon.

Treatment

Treatment for proctitis depends on the underlying cause of the inflammation.

Treatment for proctitis caused by an infection

Your doctor may recommend medications to treat your infection. Options may include:

Treatment for proctitis caused by radiation therapy

Mild cases of radiation proctitis may not require treatment. In other cases, radiation proctitis can cause severe pain and bleeding that requires treatment. Your doctor may recommend treatments such as:

Proctitis caused by inflammatory bowel disease

Treatment of proctitis related to Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is aimed at reducing the inflammation in your rectum. Treatment may include:

Preparing for your appointment

Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have rectal pain or bleeding, or if you continuously feel the need to have a bowel movement. If your doctor suspects you may have proctitis, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready and to know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Questions to ask your doctor

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

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