What Does It Mean If You Are Pooping Mucus?

By Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 12, 2022

Your colon naturally produces mucus to keep its inner lining moist and lubricated. Mucus is a naturally-occurring substance that helps stools move through the intestine.

Once in a while, this mucus attaches to your stool.

Occasional mucus that’s visible when you wipe or in the toilet bowl is generally nothing to worry about. 

But if you notice an increase in the presence of mucus in your poop, or if the mucus is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, or blood in your stool, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes, symptoms, and possible treatments for mucus in your stool.

Is Mucus In Stool Normal? 

Research has shown that mucus and mucus barriers in the gut are crucial in maintaining a person’s gut health.

The mucus can defend against bacteria, digestive enzymes and acids, and other toxins to maintain a stable environment in the gut.

It is also a natural lubricant that helps with food movement through the intestines.

While small amounts of mucus in your stool are normal, large amounts may indicate an infection or other underlying condition. 

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Signs and Symptoms 

Mucus in the stool may accompany other symptoms affecting the digestive tract, including:

Causes of Mucus In Stool 

The digestive tract normally produces mucus to help digested food and waste slide through it.

A variety of conditions may cause abnormal amounts of mucus in the poop.

Such conditions include:

Intestinal Infection 

Infection in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract might also cause mucus in the stool.

Infections can occur as a result of a bacteria, virus, or parasite invading the body system.

Some parasitic infections can cause bloody diarrhea with mucus.

Other symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever

Colorectal Cancer 

Symptoms of colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, may not become obvious until the cancer starts to spread.

It’s slow-growing cancer, which is why colonoscopy screenings are so important.

During a colonoscopy, precancerous polyps can be removed before they develop into cancer.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer can include changes to bowels and bowel habits that last for more than a few days, such as:

  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Constipation
  • Dark stool or blood in stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Narrowing of the stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

IBS often causes an excess of whitish mucus in the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s more often associated with diarrhea-predominant IBS than with constipation-predominant IBS or alternating type IBS (IBS-A)

Proctitis 

Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum that can be short-term or long-lasting.

The most common symptom is having a frequent and urgent need to have a bowel movement.

Another symptom of proctitis is having discharge of mucus or pus from the rectum, which a person should report to a healthcare provider.

Other symptoms include:

  • A feeling of fullness in the rectum
  • Rectal pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin

Crohn’s Disease 

Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract (i.e., the digestive route, which runs from the mouth to the anus). It is a form of IBD.

The mucus layer in the digestive tract is thicker, so the body secretes excess mucus in the stool.

However, during severe flare-ups, the body produces less mucus, which may mean less mucus in the stool.

Other symptoms of Crohn’s include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • A feeling of an incomplete bowel evacuation

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) 

UC is another form of IBD. It occurs due to an overactive reaction of the immune system.

It can flare up at times and be inactive at other times.

During a flare-up, the mucous membrane of the large intestine becomes inflamed and develops ulcers.

These ulcers can bleed and produce pus and mucus. Mucus in the poop is more likely during a flare-up.

Other symptoms of UC include:

  • Urgent and loose bowel movements
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Persistent diarrhea

Bacterial Infections 

Bacterial infections can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestines, leading to increased mucus production.

Some types of bacterial infections that commonly affect the intestines include:

  • Salmonella infection (food poisoning)
  • Shigella infection
  • E. coli infection (e.g., traveler’s diarrhea)

Anal Abscess or Fistula

Anal fistulas are infected tunnels between the skin and the anus.

They can form after an abscess.

They can sometimes cause bad-smelling mucus to drain from the anal area.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices.

These secreted fluids are normally thin and slippery. But in people with CF, a defective gene causes the secretions to become sticky and thick.

Instead of acting as lubricants, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts, and passageways.

This condition can cause the presence of excess mucus in poops.

Malabsorption Issues 

Malabsorption issues occur when your bowel is unable to absorb certain nutrients properly.

Conditions related to malabsorption include lactose intolerance (and other carbohydrate intolerances) and celiac disease.

Celiac Disease

Wheat sensitivity is much more common than gluten intolerance (celiac disease), which is very rare.

Those with celiac disease are hypersensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Eating gluten causes an immune reaction, inflammation, and damage to the small intestine.

As a result, more mucus in stool can occur, among other symptoms.

Lactose Intolerance 

Nearly 70% of the global population is intolerant to lactose.

Those who lack the enzyme lactase in the intestine cannot digest lactose, a component of milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance. 

Since the body cannot break it down, lactose migrates from the small intestine to the large intestine, where it is then processed by bacteria in the intestinal flora.

This processing causes bloating, abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

The intestine can also react by increasing mucus production, which is then noticed during bowel movements.

GI Infections

GI infections like gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract triggered by rotavirus or norovirus. Gastroenteritis caused by viruses usually heals quickly.

People with GI infections should drink fluids and stay hydrated all the time, as it causes mucus in stool, nausea, diarrhea, and feeling of illness.

Treatment and Home Care 

The treatment for mucus in the stool can vary depending on the diagnosis.

For some mild cases, lifestyle changes may help resolve the issue. These include:

  • Increasing your fluid intake
  • Eating foods rich in probiotics or supplements that contain probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus
  • Establishing a nutritious balance of fiber, carbohydrates, and fat in your diet

Prescription medications and ongoing treatment may be necessary for people with chronic conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Experiencing mucus in your stool? Chat with a medical provider through K Health.
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When to See a Medical Provider

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please consult with your doctor:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Blood in stool
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

Even if there aren’t any other symptoms, persistently seeing mucus in your stool could be a sign of a more serious health issue, and it’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as you notice it.

How K Health Can Help

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data. A doctor will diagnose you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist that will treat your GI problems.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years experience. He received his Undergraduate and Graduate degrees from William Paterson University and his doctoral degree from Drexel University. He has spent his career working in the Emergency Room and Primary Care. The last 6 years of his career have been dedicated to the field of digital medicine. He has created departments geared towards this specialized practice as well as written blogs and a book about the topic.