When you’ve had a chance to unclench your cheeks, let’s talk about anal fissures.
The anus is the external opening of your innards. It’s the opposite end to your gut to your mouth, and for a woman, it is located below and behind the perineum. For men, it is behind the scrotum. There are two circular parts to it called sphincters which control the exit of faeces and flatulence from the body. The inner sphincter is involuntarily controlled by your nervous system, while the outer sphincter is the one that you’re probably clenching as you read this. The polite term for it was “fundament” once upon a time, should you ever need a subtle way to discuss this over dinner or in public.
What is an anal fissure?
Because of the location of the anus, women often end up with it stretching or being damaged by being pregnant, through poor diet and dehydration or through infection and other illnesses including cancer which Farrah Fawcett succumbed to in 2009. So, what can or should you do when you see bright blood on the loo paper after a bowel movement, have pain during or after defecation, have an itch you can’t scratch, or have a look and see a crack on the external landscape?
Chances are that an anal fissure has struck your butt. Anal fissures come in all shapes and sizes and can vary from a shallow paper cut to a deep, chronic crack. Because of the way humans are built, there isn’t the best of blood supplies to the back part of the back passage’s exit and so, poor circulation means poor healing, and it can be a pain in the bum for a long time!
While the small, shallow tears tend to heal over a few weeks by themselves, deeper or persistent ones won’t. They tend to wax and wane with your health and diet and can get infected with faecal bacteria, making for lovely complicated health problems in places that hurt.
What causes it?
Some of the causes of anal fissures include:
- Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
- Poor hygiene
- Pregnancy and childbirth (not just haemorrhoids!)
- Infections such as Human Papilloma Virus, syphilis, herpes or chlamydia; conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Crohn’s Disease; and any issues related to circulation such as diabetes
If you have a crack or are feeling pain, seeing blood on your toilet paper or in the toilet, or are concerned, please go and see your health practitioner. A brief examination by a professional may reassure you of the cause and give you some tools for healing and preventing it from happening again! It may give you fresh fodder for mama coffee dates as well, and you could become the next campaigner for healing the unmentionables!
How do you treat it?
1. Be particular about wiping.
Use wet wipes, super soft toilet paper or a bidet. Be gentle on your butt and keep this in mind when wiping your babies’ as well, as children of all ages can suffer from these too.
2. Not straining to defecate.
This is easier said than done for many people, but the basics include drinking plenty of water, eating high fibre foods such as fruits, vegetable and grains, using a stool softener and avoiding constipation. Some people swear by a teaspoon of chia or psyllium in a small glass of water each day, prunes of course, or fruit such as pears, blueberries or kiwi fruit.
3. See if there’s an over-the-counter treatment that can help.
Consider having a chat with your pharmacist about the issue and see if there’s an OTC treatment for you. A healing cream with a touch of anaesthetic can help to improve the situation. Zinc oxide cream (baby bum cream) can help to reduce the itching, protect the crack and remind you to be kind to your sphincter.
4. Wear cotton undrwear.
5. Dry gently.
Dry gently after showering with a soft towel or a hairdryer, and consider using a non-talc baby powder to keep the area dry.
There are also other ideas that people swear by such as…
6. Inside of the banana peel
The internet tells me that the inside of the banana peel, tucked between your cheeks, will heal cracks pretty smartly. I cannot vouch for this but the idea “a-peels”!
7. Deworm yourself.
Consider deworming yourself and your family if the itch drives you crazy. Do NOT scratch if you can help it as it will make it worse and spread it!
So have you been worried about that bright blood on your paper after wiping and now suspect your have a fissure? Get onto it! Or more importantly, get off your butt and give your butt some lovin’.
Did you or do you have an anal fissure?
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.