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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Rectal Bleeding

Your age makes it very unlikely that your source of bleeding is something as serious as a polyp or cancer. The most likely diagnosis to explain your bleeding is hemorrhoids.


Hemorrhoids are veins just beneath the inside surface of the rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids can become overfilled and bulging, particularly when straining to push out a bowel movement repeatedly interferes with normal circulation out of these veins. A bulging hemorrhoid can develop a weak area that can allow small amounts of blood to spill into the rectum. Hemorrhoids can cause itching or can soil or moisten your underwear. Most hemorrhoids do not cause pain, but some do cause pain, particularly if a blood clot forms, creating a "thrombosed" hemorrhoid.

Your doctor will try to identify hemorrhoids during an office visit. An inspection of your anus and rectum will be necessary to confirm your diagnosis. A lubricated hollow cylinder called an "anoscope" may be used by your doctor during your examination. This hollow tube is approximately the diameter of a normal bowel movement. It can be pushed gently against your anus and inserted four or five inches into your rectum so that your doctor can view your rectum. If your doctor sees hemorrhoids beneath the surface of your rectum, then most experts would agree at your young age, you will not likely require further testing. If hemorrhoids are not visible as an explanation for your bleeding, you may require further evaluation to check for colon polyps.

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