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Rectal Bleeding Without Hemorrhoids: 3 Known Causes

Rectal Bleeding Without Hemorrhoids: 3 Known Causes

Rectal bleeding often comes as a surprise, and it’s not a welcome one. People who suffer from hemorrhoids may be used to the occasional appearance of blood on toilet paper, in the bowl, or on the stool. It’s perhaps the most common reason for rectal bleeding. 

You may notice bleeding from your rectum for plenty of other reasons. While some causes are benign, you should investigate rectal bleeding with medical professionals like the team at Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists in the metropolitan Denver, Colorado, area. Led by Dr. Lisa Perryman, we diagnose and treat the reasons behind your rectal bleeding. 

3 non-hemorrhoidal causes of rectal bleeding

The color and consistency of blood often suggests where the bleeding originates. Bright red blood usually usually comes from the anus or colon, locations near the end of your digestive tract. Dark red blood typically starts deeper in the lower or upper intestine. Dark, tar-like stools often point to bleeding from causes like stomach ulcers. Dr. Perryman reviews the type of bleeding you experience as part of the diagnostic process. 

There’s a long list of potential causes for rectal bleeding. We’ve listed three of the most common here. It’s important, however, to follow up on any unexplained rectal bleeding, as some of the less common causes may have serious health consequences. 

Anal fissures

Small tears in the tissue of the anus, fissures typically result from unusual bowel movements. Stools may be hard or large, constipation can force excess straining, or they may develop through periods of chronic diarrhea. Anal fissures are quite common, though they may be quick to heal (acute fissures) or long-lasting (chronic fissures). 

As well as evidence of bleeding (usually bright red), symptoms can include pain during bowel movements, itching or irritation between bowel movements, and sometimes pain associated with spasms of the anal sphincter. Most cases of anal fissure respond to conservative care, but chronic fissures may require more aggressive medical attention, including surgery. 

Vascular Ectasias

Vascular ectasias is a dilated, thin-walled blood vessel in the colon, typically on the right side of the colon. It usually stops bleeding spontaneously but frequently recurs. Characteristically, it is more common in older adults and may represent the commonest cause of lower intestinal bleeding in the population over 60 years of age. 


There are several types of colon polyps, growths on the lining of the large intestine. One type has strong potential to convert to colon cancer. Polyps don’t always cause symptoms, but when they occur these can include constipation and diarrhea. Bleeding from polyps may appear as red streaks, or it can cause black stools. 

Contact Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists when you need an expert’s assessment of your condition. You can reach us by phone or online to schedule an examination. Rectal bleeding is not a health issue to put off. Book your appointment today. 

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