Tenesmus: what is it? See symptoms, treatment, causes and more


What is Tenesmus?

Tenesmus is the constant urge to evacuate, even if there is no need. People who suffer from this problem have an intense desire to go to the bathroom even when there is no stool in the rectum and, often, this condition occurs because of anxiety . Tenesmus can also cause the sensation of incomplete bowel movement, whether the person is in pain or not.

People who suffer from tenesmus often need to make more effort to produce a small amount of stool during evacuation.

What are the causes of Tenesmus?

The biggest cause of the problem is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be separated into more common and less common. The cause of these diseases is not known, but genetics and the immune system are believed to be part of the process.

This type of inflammation is known as motility, which are problems that interfere with bowel movements to displace the bolus.

These movements are known as peristalsis and are muscle contractions in which the hollow organs have the function of joining the fecal bolus to clean the intestine. The movements are made in a coordinated way in contractions and relaxations that push the fecal cake to be expelled.

More common

  • Irritable bowel syndrome;
  • Tumors (cancer of the rectum);
  • Actinic retinitis;
  • Rectal infections;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Ulcerative colitis;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.

The problems characterized by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause ulcerations in the gastrointestinal tract. These ulcers cause scarring on the walls of the organs that work digestion, causing difficulty in passing stools. If ulcerative colitis occurs, these ulcers become stagnant in the rectum and colon. If it is Crohn’s disease, the ulcers can spread through the gastrointestinal tract.

Less common

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction;
  • Colon Cancer;
  • Diverticular disease;
  • Rectal abscesses;
  • Stomatized (ileostomy / colostomy);
  • Colon infection;
  • Hemorrhoidal prolapse.

Symptoms of Tenesmus

The main characteristic of the disease is the discomfort in the fecal region, that is, the feeling that it needs to defecate even though there is nothing in the rectum.

There are some other symptoms that can also arise in case of tenesmus. They are:

  • Anxiety;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Chill;
  • Bleeding;
  • Fever;
  • Slimming;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Blood in the stool;
  • Vomiting.


There are several causes that can cause tenesmus, so it is necessary to go to the doctor for him to make the routine questioning (anamnesis) and also the physical exam, which consists of some techniques, including digital rectal examination.

There are specific tests that the doctor can order, such as rectosigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy , stool culture, complete blood count , protosigmoidoscopy (examination of the large intestine) and endoscopy.

Treatment for Tenesmus

Treatment is done according to the cause of tenesmus. If it is caused by inflammation, the doctor is likely to recommend the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. If the condition of the disease is not very serious, the doctor may recommend a treatment to be done at home to relieve the symptoms of some high fiber diet.

Drinking a lot of water is also important, in addition to performing physical activities, which make the bowel movement work properly.

The diarrhea , when present, can be treated with antibiotics, it is indicated to combat bacteria and parasites. However, they do not have the same function for viral diseases.

Home treatment

Changes in the patient’s lifestyle and diet may be suggested by the doctor if cramps and discomfort appear as symptoms. Eating a high-fiber diet will make stools soften and be more easily eliminated.

Performing physical activities is also indicated by the doctor, so that the intestines can move the stool through the gastrointestinal tract.

Inflammatory disease as a cause

If inflammatory diseases occur in the intestine, using anti-inflammatory drugs may be enough in some cases, but in others, antibiotics may be needed to help kill bacteria in the intestine.

Diarrhea and constipation as a cause

If diarrhea is the cause of tenesmus, treatment can be done with antibiotics that fight parasites and bacteria. Some medications may be banned for use by the patient, as the substance may be the cause of diarrhea.

If the cause is the other way around, constipation, laxative medications can be a treatment option for the disease. In severe cases, stool breakage can occur, through a procedure in which the doctor uses his hands to perform the activity.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.


The disease can be a symptom of rectal cancer , STD or some infection and, therefore, it is very important to go to the doctor so that the disease is diagnosed and the treatment is given correctly.

Is Tenesmus preventable?

The best way to avoid the problem is to have a balanced diet, always ingest the necessary amount of water recommended per day (2L) and also perform physical activities so that the intestines perform the precise movements.

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