A stool that gets stuck halfway out can be a sign of constipation or fecal impaction. Walking around, drinking water, or taking a laxative can often help you pass a hard stool. But some signs can point to a medical emergency.
Squirming to pass a stool is anything but pleasant. You feel the urge to go, yet nothing comes. Or the poop makes its way to the opening of your anus, but gets stuck halfway out.
This happens to a lot of people. It’s even common in babies as they switch from a liquid diet to solid foods.
Impacted stool can cause poop to get stuck. But having your poop stuck halfway out doesn’t always point to impaction. Every day constipation is another possible culprit.
Poop stuck halfway out your anal canal is an awkward feeling, but it isn’t necessarily an emergency. Some causes might require medical treatment, while others will resolve with home remedies.
Common causes of your poop stuck halfway out include:
Constipation refers to passing fewer than three bowel movements a week or having difficulty fully passing stool. Symptoms include:
- hard, dry stools
- feeling that you haven’t emptied your rectum fully
Constipation can be chronic or infrequent, but is typically not a medical emergency. The only exception is when a blockage causes constipation, leading to impaction. This might include an intestinal blockage caused by:
Since constipation causes stools to move at a slower pace, poop can get stuck halfway out.
Impacted stool can also cause poop to get stuck. Also known as fecal impaction, this condition causes dry, hard stools too. It often results from prolonged constipation, which blocks stools in your rectum.
Impacted stool is a more serious condition. In fact, although extremely rare, it can be life threatening if left untreated and lead to a colon obstruction. Other signs of fecal impaction include:
- abdominal pain
- thin and bloody stools
Other medical conditions
Keep in mind that some gastrointestinal conditions have constipation as a symptom. If left untreated, these can also lead to impacted stool. Impaction might occur if you have:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- Hirschsprung’s disease
- Parkison’s disease
- inflammatory bowel conditions
- nerve injury
Lifestyle and diet
Lifestyle habits can contribute to poop getting stuck halfway out. Some dietary and daily habits can cause constipation, such as a sedentary lifestyle and eating a low fiber diet.
Not drinking enough water also causes stools to become dry and hard, potentially causing poop to get stuck halfway out.
You can blame this discomfort on shifting hormones during pregnancy. An increase in the hormone progesterone relaxes your body’s muscles, causing stools to move slower through your intestinal tract.
The increase in progesterone often leads to constipation in pregnancy, causing poop to become stuck. Other causes also include:
- being less active while pregnant
- not drinking enough water
- eating too little fiber
During the first several months of life, a baby eats a liquid diet before transitioning to solid foods.
Sometimes, the transition from liquid to solids is a shock to their systems. And as a result, their poop becomes hard and dry until they adjust.
Home remedies and medical treatment can relieve poop that’s stuck halfway out. Possible solutions include:
Oftentimes, the condition is dry, hard stools, and not a medical emergency. Start by increasing your fiber intake, which makes it easier to pass tools. This includes eating more:
- whole grains
You can also increase your water intake to keep stools soft, as well as increase physical activity. Exercise stimulates intestinal movement, making it easier to pass stools.
If you experience constipation, it might take a few days for home remedies to take effect. But the following over-the-counter medications (OTC) may relieve symptoms:
Use laxatives as directed by your doctor, and for no more than 2 weeks. Overuse can worsen constipation.
Medical treatment and prescription medications
For chronic constipation, talk with a doctor about prescription drugs to regulate bowel activity. If you have an underlying gastrointestinal condition, treating it can help relieve constipation.
Your doctor might even recommend a colonoscopy to look for possible blockages in your colon. If that’s the case, you might need surgery to remove the blockage.
If you have poop that’s stuck halfway out, avoid worsening the situation. Here’s what not to do:
Digging the stool out with your fingers
When your stool is stuck halfway out, manually removing it from your rectum might seem like a simple solution. But don’t insert your finger in the rectum.
Digging out the stool can damage the soft tissue at the opening of your anus, resulting in anal tears and bleeding. Only a doctor should manually remove poop from the rectum.
Forcing it out
You might feel the urge to strain and force the stool out. However, straining to empty your rectum can cause other conditions like hemorrhoids and anal fissures. These can cause bleeding and rectal pain.
If you have poop stuck halfway out, be patient. Start with home remedies like:
- moving around
- drinking water
- taking OTC suppositories or enemas
- increasing your fiber
For constipation, you can also take a laxative or stool softener.
Poop stuck halfway out isn’t usually a medical emergency. But it may be an emergency in the case of a severe fecal impaction.
If waste can’t leave your body, you may develop:
- severe abdominal pain
- rapid heart rate
Call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room if you develop any of these symptoms.
Poop stuck halfway out due to constipation is mostly uncomfortable and there’s a low risk of complications. In the case of fecal impaction, possible complications include:
- bowel ulceration
- peritonitis (infection of your gastrointestinal system)
- low blood pressure
- loss of consciousness
- rapid heart rate
Here’s a look at several ways to prevent poop from getting stuck halfway out.
To prevent constipation, increase your intake of fiber-rich foods. These include:
- whole grains
You can also increase your fiber by taking a supplement.
Other ways to prevent constipation include increasing your fluid intake and being physically active on a regular basis.
Impacted stool occurs after prolonged constipation or a blockage in your rectum. Take steps to keep bowel activity regular and avoid impaction. Call a doctor if your constipation does not improve.
A doctor can also determine whether you have an underlying health condition that causes constipation or a blockage. Treating the underlying condition helps restore bowel activity.
Having poop stuck halfway out can feel uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about. But this condition happens to many people.
Oftentimes, poop that’s stuck is a simple fix. If it’s due to stool impaction, though, connect with a doctor to avoid serious complications.