Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Tenesmus is a spurious feeling of the need to evacuate the bowels, with little or no stool passed. Tenesmus may be constant or intermittent, and is usually accompanied by pain, cramping and involuntary straining efforts. It can be a temporary and transient problem related to constipation. The term rectal tenesmus is sometimes used to differentiate from vesical tenesmus, which is an overwhelming desire to empty the bladder.


    Rectal tenesmus.

  • Bladder tenesmus.

There are number of possible causes of tenesmus but the most common is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Other common causes include:

    Crohn's disease.

  • Ulcerative colitis.

  • Anorectal abscess.

  • Infective colitis.

  • Colorectal tumors, especially polyps.

  • Radiation proctitis; this may follow irradiation for tumors of other sites, such as bladder tumors, cervical carcinoma and prostatic tumors.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

  • Endometriosis; can affect the rectum and cause pain and tenesmus.

  • Frequent travelling and change of places can bring about dietary and other related changes in some people may be an underlying cause of tenesmus. It is important to note the changes and consult your doctor for the same.

The prevalence of tenesmus has not been accurately documented but is most commonly encountered in patients with carcinomas of the rectum or other pelvic region.



  • Nausea.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Blood in the stool.

  • Vomiting.

  • Chills.


The physical examination may include a detailed abdominal examination. A rectal examination is performed in most cases.

Tests that may be done include:

    Complete blood count (CBC).

  • Colonoscopy to look at the colon and rectum.

  • Proctosigmoidoscopy (an examination of the lower bowel).

  • Stool cultures.

  • CT scan of the abdomen (in rare cases).

  • X-rays of the abdomen.


If you are struggling with tenesmus, there are a number of treatment options available. In most cases, your symptom can be relieved using home remedies.

If an IBD or motility disorder is causing your symptoms, you can help relieve your cramps and discomfort by making some diet and lifestyle changes. Eating a diet that is high in fiber is one of the best ways to relieve your tenesmus. Eating at least 20 grams of fiber every day will make your stool softer and add weight to it. This helps your body pass the stool more easily. If you have ulcers or scarring in your GI tract, you should be able to pass a softer stool more easily and with less pain. Drinking enough water is important in making sure your stool is soft as well.

Physical activity stimulates movement in your intestines. Exercising regularly can help your tenesmus by helping your intestines move your waste through your GI tract. These home treatment options also double as great tenesmus prevention methods.

Medical Management: Medication can reduce gastrointestinal irritation, or surgery can be performed in order to repair any damaged intestines. For a case caused by an anorectal abscess, the pus-filled pocket can be treated by a procedure to surgically remove the pus. Further infection can be prevented by keeping the anal area clean and disinfected or by using condoms during anal intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Tenesmus that is a symptom of colorectal cancer may subside after cancer treatment.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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