What is Proctitis?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Proctitis is a condition where the lining of the rectum becomes inflamed. It is most commonly contracted through sexually transmitted diseases (STD) though it can also develop as a result of autoimmune disease, radiotherapy, and the insertion of damaging items or substances into the rectum. The condition is usually not serious and can be easily treatable.

The most commonly reported cause of proctitis is from STDs contracted through anal intercourse. Some of the typical diseases that lead to the condition include herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and amebiasis. Non-sexually transmitted infections from the bacteria that cause strep throat can also lead to proctitis. Autoimmune proctitis can develop as a result of bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Proctitis can also be the result of actions and substances that put stress on the rectum, such as radiation for cancer and the insertion of dangerous items in the area.

There are several ways to diagnose proctitis. Typically the first step is a physical examination and analysis of a stool sample with a general practitioner. Testing for sexually-transmitted diseases is also common. Then if the condition is suspected, a doctor of digestive issues called a gastroenterologist will gather further information thorough sigmoidoscopy and protoscopy, processes through which tube is sent into the rectum to collect tissue samples. The doctor may also do a rectal culture.


Some of the common symptoms of proctitis include pain, discomfort, discharge, and bleeding in the rectal area. There may also be constipation, bloody stools, and feeling a constant need to defecate. Some patients experience abdominal discomfort and a painful type of bowel movement called tenesmus.

Most cases of proctitis can be treated with little to no permanent damage to the body. If the condition is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed. Anti-virals are usually prescribed for viral infections. In other cases, mesalamine suppositories and cortiscosteriods can help to relieve pain. Overall, the best course of treatment is to avoid contact with the item or substance that caused the condition so that the rectum can heal.

Proctitis that is caused by radiation is treated with drugs for inflammation and bleeding and a procedure through which dead tissue in the rectum is destroyed. If the condition is caused by bowel disease, drugs are administered for inflammation. In more serious cases, surgery may be required.

There are some complications that could make proctitis a more severe condition. These include anemia, anal fistula, and severe bleeding. Some women may also experience rectovaginal fistula, which is a poor connection between the vagina and the rectum that can lead to stool and gas escaping through the vagina.


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