The primary function of your rectum is to act as temporary storage for the fecal matter. The anal canal eliminates fecal matter from your body after it’s passed through the rectum. When the food passes through your digestive system, it breaks down slowly. All the nutrients are properly absorbed in your stomach, large and small intestines.
Fecal matter includes bacteria, fiber and digestive juices. It continues to move slowly into the lower end of your large intestine, called the rectum. This part holds your fecal matter until you’re able to eliminate it from your body via the anal canal. This happens when you have a bowel movement.
Significance of the Rectum
The rectum contains muscular walls that expand to properly hold the fecal matter. When the rectum expands, the nerves in this area send specific signals to the brain to encourage a bowel movement. Muscles around and in the anal canal control this action. Older children and adults are able to voluntarily control these muscles. They can be relaxed to release the feces from your rectum. On the other hand, they can be contracted to avoid a bowel movement.
Considerations for Proper Rectum Health
The anal canal and rectum have a lot of veins. When these veins are inflamed and swollen, the condition is called hemorrhoids. Over 50% Americans suffer from hemorrhoids before the age of 50. This condition can be itchy, painful, and even cause bleeding.
The primary causes of hemorrhoids include diarrhea, constipation and straining to have a bowel movement. You should never ignore sudden rectal bleeding. It may be a sign of serious conditions, such as rectal cancer.
Prevention of Problems
A healthy diet can help you prevent hemorrhoids, rectal cancer and other such problems. You should eat a diet rich in fiber, and drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. This helps your body absorb all the nutrients, and makes your stool bulky and soft. It’s also important to eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other sources of fiber. Most importantly, if you have a family history of rectal cancer, you should get yourself regularly screened for the condition.