Rectal symptoms like bleeding, pain and itching can be caused by many medical conditions. Because the rectum is part of the gastrointestinal tract, several digestive disorders can be causing your symptoms. Other conditions, such as pregnancy, constipation, infections, and rectal growths, can also lead to uncomfortable side effects. The medical term for swelling and irritation of the rectal area is “proctitis.” Here are several common causes.

Infection.
Infection of the digestive system can cause proctitis with symptoms like rectal pain, bleeding, mucus discharge, and loose or watery stools. Eating foods contaminated with bacteria is a common cause. Another is infection from sexually transmitted diseases in people who practice unsafe anal sex. You also may get proctitis when taking antibiotics if the medication kills normal bacteria and allows harmful bacteria to grow in the colon and rectum.

Constipation.
Constipation–when you don’t have a bowel movement at least three times a week–can have many causes, such as not getting enough fiber in your diet, not drinking enough water, and not getting enough exercise. If constipation is frequent or long-lasting, it can cause rectal complications such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen rectal veins, and fissures are cracks or tears around the anus. Symptoms include itching, burning, and bleeding, especially after a bowel movement.

Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the digestive system that attacks the colon and the rectal area. The exact cause is not known, but people with this disease may have an abnormal immune system (your body’s built-in defense system) that mistakes normal bacteria in the colon for foreign invaders. Rectal symptoms may include bleeding, pus discharge from the anus, and diarrhea. Most people begin having symptoms between ages 15 and 30. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, and weight loss.

Crohn’s Disease.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are each a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease usually starts somewhere between the teen years and age 30. The cause is not known but probably has something to do with an abnormal immune system. People with Crohn’s can have rectal bleeding and diarrhea. They may also have pain in the lower-right part of their abdomen, fever, and weight loss.

Diverticulitis.
Diverticula are small pouches that form inside the colon. These pouches become more common with age. If a pouch or pouches become inflamed, the disorder is called diverticulitis. The most common area for diverticulitis is in the part of the colon that empties into the rectum. Rectal symptoms can include constipation, cramps, and sometimes bleeding. Other symptoms are chills and fever.

Rectal Polyps.
Rectal polyps are growths that form on the inside lining of the rectum. About 15% to 20% of adults will get colon or rectal polyps. Although there may be no symptoms, rectal polyps can cause pain, bleeding, and pus. Rectal polyps that are found during a routine checkup, or because of rectal symptoms, should be removed. Although most rectal polyps are not cancerous, some rectal polyps can turn into rectal cancer.

Pregnancy.
Being pregnant can cause rectal symptoms that include constipation, hemorrhoids, and rectal bleeding, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. As the baby grows, pressure builds up inside the blood vessels that supply and drain the rectum. Hormone changes during pregnancy slow down digestion and increase fluid retention, making rectal symptoms more likely.