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What is an Anal Stenosis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Anal stenosis is narrowing of the anus, making it difficult to pass stool. It can be congenital or acquired, and there are treatment options available. Conservative treatments are usually tried first to see if they are sufficient for handling a case, before proceeding to more aggressive options for management of anal stenosis. Patients can work with a general practitioner or a proctologist in the development of a treatment plan.

Some people are born with strictures in the anus, leading to a narrowed anus or difficulty relaxing enough to defecate. This is different from imperforate anus, a rare birth defect where no anal opening is present. Other people get anal stenosis later in life, usually as a complication of aggressive hemorrhoid surgery. The patient will have difficulty defecating and may experience discomfort and a feeling of fullness caused by retaining feces. Over the long term, people are at risk of complications along the length of the bowel and it is important to address anal stenosis before these complications develop.

One option for management of anal stenosis is diet. Eating more fiber and adapting the diet slightly can keep the stool soft enough to pass easily, even through a narrowed anus. Some patients may be given laxatives. Manual dilation of the anus, where a finger is used to free impacted stool, is also an option. If these treatments are not sufficient, surgery to open the anus and resolve the problem may be the best option.

In an anoplasty surgery, a doctor will build a new anus for the patient, with an opening wide enough for the patient to defecate comfortably. After surgery, patients may experience some problems with incontinence during recovery and it is important to follow dietary and other medical recommendations to increase the chances of healing smoothly, with minimal complications. Patients who need surgery to treat anal stenosis should also watch closely for the development of hemorrhoids if they've had a problem with them in the past.

Patients may be embarrassed about seeking medical treatment when it comes to management of conditions involving the anus, but prompt medical care can help prevent complications and may provide patients with more treatment options. Doctors have seen a variety of things over the course of their careers and addressing problems with bowel movements is all part of the job. Patients who feel uncomfortable with a given care provider can request a referral to a different doctor.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By titans62 — On Aug 15, 2011

@kentuckycat - You are correct. That particular Family Guy episode showed the main character's irrational fears of having a prostate exam and not being well informed of what it actually was. In the episode he sued the doctor for sexual harassment, then had to have a prostate exam in the end because he started to have a problem, showing how irrational and silly his fears were.

The point of the whole episode was to show that no one really has anything to worry about with a prostate exam or any type of exam involving the anus. It is simply mental taboo to let someone else examine your anus but when it is necessary a doctor has to in order to diagnose a potential medical problem. It is irrational for someone to let their unnecessary fears get in the way of having their health properly diagnosed.

By kentuckycat — On Aug 14, 2011

@JimmyT - You are absolutely right. A lot of people are very afraid of having a rectal exam for various reasons and it is something that is necessary in order to determine serious health problems. I believe a few years ago Family Guy parodied people's fears of having a rectal exam by showing people's fears of either to doctors performing the exams, or just the examination taken to the extreme where he ends up suing the doctor for just performing the exam.

People have nothing to fear when taking one of these exams because it could prove to be so beneficial to one's health should the doctor find a problem in the early stages.

By JimmyT — On Aug 14, 2011

Some people may be apprehensive to go see a doctor when it concerns a rectal exam but it is a very important thing to have happen. Having a doctor examine the anus is necessary in determining many serious health problems and someone should not be shy and not be embarrassed to do so if it concerns one's health.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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