Poop stuck halfway out: Causes, what to do, and prevention
Poop that gets stuck halfway out is typically a sign of constipation but may indicate a more serious problem. Some people find that adjusting their position or drinking water will get the stool moving again.
Pooping, or having a bowel movement, is the last stage of digestion. Everything a person eats and drinks passes through their digestive system. Waste products from digestion form feces, or stools, which people expel when they poop.
If a person has difficulty pooping, they may be constipated. Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week can be another sign of constipation.
Other potential reasons a stool gets stuck may include certain medications, cancer treatments, and underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.
This article explains why poop may get stuck halfway out, potential ways to complete the bowel movement, and how to prevent it.
There are several potential causes of a stool getting stuck halfway out during a bowel movement.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK), doctors describe constipation as:
Constipation can occur at any age. However, it is most common in adults ages 60 years and over.
People who regularly experience constipation may have fecal impaction, where hard, dry feces build up in the rectum or colon. People with fecal impaction may also experience bloating and abdominal pain.
According to a 2022 paper, fecal impaction is more common among older adults who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or those who are hospitalized or in institutional care.
Sometimes, recurrent constipation, which may involve difficulty passing stools, is a sign of an underlying medical condition.
A 2018 review of literature suggests that certain health conditions may be a secondary cause of constipation. These include:
The review also suggests that some mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, can contribute to constipation in some people.
People with hemorrhoids, also known as piles, may find it painful to defecate, or poop. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower part of the rectum.
Large hemorrhoids may feel as if something is pressing against the anus, which people may mistake for a stuck poop.
The NIDDK explains that some medications can make people constipated, which can cause stools that are difficult to pass or get stuck during bowel movements.
Some medications that may cause constipation include the following:
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) adds that constipation can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
According to the NIDDK, people who eat little dietary fiber, do not drink enough fluids, and live a sedentary lifestyle are at risk of constipation.
Changes in a person’s daily routine, such as travel or pregnancy, may also affect their digestion.
Poops that get stuck halfway may be dry and hard. Some people find that moving around helps, while others prefer to change their position. For example, they may lean forward and rest their hands on their thighs while sitting on the toilet.
According to a 2019 article, people who used a posture modification device during bowel movements — such as a small footstool to lift their bent knees higher than their hips — did not strain as much and felt that their bowels emptied more comfortably.
In the longer term, the NIDDK recommends drinking more water, eating more fiber-rich foods, and getting more exercise.
People may also use laxatives to encourage bowel movements, but the NIDDK only recommends using these in the short term.
People with poop stuck halfway out may feel tempted to strain to push the feces out. However, straining can damage the veins in the rectum and cause or worsen hemorrhoids.
People who experience difficulty passing a bowel movement should also avoid trying to remove feces with their fingers. Inserting a digit into the anus can cause tears and may lead to infection.
Most people can treat constipation with home remedies and lifestyle changes, but if a person is frequently experiencing poop getting stuck halfway out, they may need medical advice.
The NIDDK recommends that anyone with constipation, including infants and children, seek medical attention if they experience:
Most people can manage constipation with simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing their fluid intake and adding fiber-rich foods to their diets.
The NIDDK recommends the following tips to help prevent and manage constipation:
If constipation or difficulty passing stools persists after these changes, a person should speak with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause.
Stool that is dry or hard may be difficult to pass and can get stuck halfway out. This is typically a sign of constipation, but in some cases, it may be a symptom of an underlying illness.
Using a small footstool that lifts the knees higher than the hips may help people complete a bowel movement.
Most people can treat constipation successfully at home, either by using laxatives or by making changes to their diet. Regular exercise can also help.
Anyone who has constipation regularly or notices blood in their stools should speak with their doctor. The doctor can rule out underlying illnesses and offer tips on preventing constipation in the long term.