In recent years, colorectal cancers have begun getting the attention they deserve. Cancer is the second leading cause of death (behind heart disease) in the United States. Another runner up, colorectal cancer is the second most fatal cancer (behind lung and bronchial cancer). With smoking rates dropping and no recent change in rectal health discussions, many are fearful that these two will one-day swap positions on the top of the “deadliest cancers” list. Colorectal cancer and other disorders are frequently ignored until it is much too late. Generally speaking, the normal population is not comfortable talking about their gut or butt health or discussing changes and concerns with anyone. In today’s post, we want to help shed some insight on how you can better care for your rectum and help prevent or identify problems before they become fatal.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we create medical lubricants that make rectal exams more comfortable and limit the effects on cytology specimens. Making rectal exams more comfortable enhances the chances that patients will participate in them regularly and can decrease the incidence of stage 3 or 4 cancers. Our HR Lubricating Jelly is water-soluble so it won’t leave unsightly stains, nor will it interfere with natural gut flora.
Tips For Taking Care of Your Rectum
Maintain Proper Nutrition
What goes in, must come out. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the high-fat content of the typical American diet is linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer. Trans fats, grease, salts, and nitrates have all been linked to causes of colorectal cancer. Processed or preserved foods also serve to preserve your intestines, causing damage to your gut lining. Fiber plays a big role in colon health and should be consumed liberally. Eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains. Reduce the amount of processed and preserved foods. Maintain optimal hydration to keep cells happy and waste moving.
Be Mindful of What Goes In
Regardless of the route, you should be mindful of what is going into your body. In regards to the rectal cavity, there are additional considerations that should be taken before inserting anything. The anus, unlike any other cavity, is incredibly sensitive and full of natural flora and bacteria. The nature of rectal tissues is meant to keep feces from coming out until you are ready. For this reason, the sphincters are very tight and the walls are not smooth like other cavities. When anything is to be inserted into the anus, there are a few steps that should be taken.
If you are considering keistering your life savings, don’t. Money and other publically handled items are incredibly dirty and will introduce unwelcome bacteria into your digestive system. For suppositories or medication, ensure the medication comes directly from packaging into the anus. If you participate in anal sex, ensure that your partner showers beforehand (and afterward) or ensure that any adult toys are thoroughly cleaned after every use and again directly before being used again. This prevents any bacteria that may have grown on the toys from entering your body.
Don’t skimp on the lube! The only time you may want to take it easy on lubricating anything being inserted into the rectal cavity is when you are placing tablets and this is to ensure maximum absorption. Anything else — fingers, scopes, speculums, rectal tubes, phallus, or adult toys — should be lubricated well with water-based lubricating jelly. Not only will proper lubrication make insertion more comfortable, but it will reduce tissue damage and tearing. Shearing of the rectal cavity can cause a variety of infections. Additionally, tears will cause scar tissue to build up, making your sphincters less effective and peristalsis slower. The takeaway? Lube liberally.
Modify Your Habits
There are many day to day habits that can influence your rectal health in different ways. While doing any of these things every once in a while may not cause problems, developing poor habits can cause major issues in the long run.
Don’t wax or bleach
Waxing and bleaching your anus causes damage to the tissues. Leaving your rectum in its natural state is your best bet to avoid problems. And, if you insist on engaging in these beauty procedures, use them sparingly.
Don’t rest on the toilet
The toilet should not be a place to read the news or scroll through your phone. Take only as long as it takes to complete your business and then get up. The toilet bowl works like a gravity sink. Combined with the relaxation of your sphincter or pressure from straining can cause hemorrhoids.
Wash with water and soap
There is no need to use any special products to clean your rectum, or any cavity for that matter. Use warm water and soap only. Avoid using antimicrobial or scented soaps and definitely no scrubbing!
Sometimes straining is unavoidable. However, when you have a normal bowel movement, you should be able to simply relax and allow gravity to assist. Straining can cause hemorrhoids to develop and break blood vessels in your colon.
Get Routine Screenings
Don’t skip on routine screenings because you are embarrassed or are concerned it will be uncomfortable. Techniques have advanced to improve patient comfort and providers are well aware of the discomfort that rectal exams and colonoscopies cause and do everything they can to reduce discomfort and protect your dignity.
The type of routine screening you get will vary depending on your risk of colorectal cancer, including inherited and lifestyle risks. Generally, everyone should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 and those at an increased risk should begin screening by age 45 or the age an immediate family member was diagnosed, whichever is earlier. Testing may consist of a simple fecal test every year at your physical or may include rectal exams. Rectal exams to test for rectal disorders and cancer include flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography, or a colonoscopy. You can discuss the options and which is suggested for you with your provider.
When It’s Time to Investigate Your Symptoms
Colorectal cancers are somewhat preventable and are relatively easy to treat if caught early. Don’t ignore changes in bowel habits and speak honestly with your provider.
Abnormal symptoms that should be investigated:
There are several symptoms that may indicate gut or rectal disorders or colorectal cancers. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Contact your provider to have them checked out right away. When caught early, benign or malignant polyps can be removed fairly easily. If left untreated, colorectal cancers can quickly metastasize to other areas and organs. Symptoms you should seek medical attention for include:
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits.
- Unexplained or reoccurring diarrhea or constipation.
- Feeling that you have not completely emptied your colon after having a bowel movement.
- Black, tarry, or coffee-ground bowel-movements.
- Bleeding from the rectum.
- A constant feeling of “fullness” despite eating or bowel habits.
- Sudden change in energy levels.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Unexplained abdominal pain or bloating.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we are determined to help improve patient comfort and increase screenings to promote the health and safety of all people. For all of your anal lubricant needs, trust the industry’s most trusted medical lubricant — HR Lubricating Jelly. Our formula is water-based and bacteriostatic for optimal viscosity and safety. Browse our entire product line online today.