Defecation - the process of removing waste from our bodies in the form of stool. Medical professionals recommend monitoring your stools to look for signs of dehydration, possible dietary imbalances, or even bleeding that may occur along the digestive tract.
Before defecation can occur and waste can be removed, the stool has to first go through the digestive system. Food first enters the body through the mouth where saliva molds it into a bolus which travels down through the esophagus, the stomach, liver, gallbladder and the pancreas. After that lets focus on what happens to the poop in more detail.
After the pancreas, the eventual stool gets to the small intestine. The small intestine is actually the longest part of the digestive tract. Most of the digestion and absorption of food actually takes place in the small intestine so it is quite an important organ. The small intestine is divided into three general parts:
The large intestine is one of the few organs left before the stools are removed from the body. The large intestine is divided into 5 parts:
The rectum is the next to last organ in the digestive system. It comes after the Sigmoid Colon and stores the stools before the body is ready to remove it as waste through the anus.
The rectal canal leads from the rectum to the anal opening. The anal canal is approximately two inches long and leads right into the anal opening.
The anus is essentially where the defecation takes place as it is the point where the stools exist the body. The area around the anus is quite sensitive and can be easily irritated. Excessive straining or wiping can cause the skin to tear and slight bleeding to happen. The blood can appear on the toilet paper and can sometimes be a scary sight. Usually this isn't a problem. If this happens consistently, you may want to use softer toilet paper or take better care of your skin around the anus. If it does not help, it may be a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional as prolonged bleeding around the anus can cause problems like hemorrhoids or weakened blood vessels.
Keep in mind that the colon and the anus have many blood vessels. Damage to the blood vessels by straining during defecation, or by wiping the anus too hard until it bleeds, may put you at risk of developing long-term anal problems like hemorrhoids or chronic anal fissures. Be gentle in the area of your anus when you wipe, and eat enough fiber in your diet so you don't have constipation too often, and do not have to strain while on the toilet.
If you see blood while you are defecating, that can be an alarming sign. It can also be a sign of something that isn't a concern at all. Take a look at the blood. If it is fresh and on the toilet paper, it is probably just from a little bit of skin irritation around the anus from wiping too hard. You should wipe more gently or get softer toilet tissue paper. In case the blood, is mixed in with the poop in the toilet, that may mean that the bleeding is happening inside your digestive system and you may want to examine this further.
Once the stools exist the anus, you may want to keep an eye on them as unusual shapes, colors, consistency, or even if the poop floats, can be a sign of a number of different problems. If the poop is too hard, it might be a sign that you are dehydrated and serve as an alert to consume more healthy liquids and stop consuming caffeinated products which are typically not good for you in the first place.
In case you see blood in your stools, first try to make sure it is really blood. Sometimes having consumed red foods or liquids can cause the stools to appear red. It it is truly blood, notice whether it is well mixed with the stool and is a very dark color, or spread throughout the water in the toilet. If the blood is dark or black, it means it has had time to decay and the bleeding may have occurred earlier in the digestion cycle. If the blood looks fresh and not well-mixed with the stools, that can be a sign that the bleeding happened more recently.
Since what comes out of your body during defecation had made its way through many of your organs, it can be very telling about the state of health of your digestive system and much more. Most people experience normal stools during defecation. But that isn't always the case. Various factors like diets, lifestyle, or certain illnesses may affect what you excrete.
At times, stool can have different colors or shape of the feces. This is usually not a cause for concern, but if these systems persist, you would be well advised to seek a proper diagnosis of what is causing the change in your stools from a qualified healthcare professional.