Question: Hello, could you explain why a mucus discharge may occur with a bowel movement? The amount of mucus is very small, there is no pain associated with the bowel movement, and this happens very infrequently.
Answer: Mucous is produced by certain cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. It has both a lubricating and protective effect. Therefore, the passage of mucous is not in of itself an abnormal finding.
The passage of mucous with a bowel movement, in those patients with a change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation) is often due to the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS); in fact this syndrome used to be called “Mucous Colitis”.
If persistent mucous constitutes the major portion of a bowel movement or is passed in large amounts, then the possibility of a villous adenoma is considered. There are a certain type of polyp or benign tumor of the colon, that can become cancerous. If there is a strong history of colon polyps or cancer in the family, an endoscopic exam of the lower colon may be warranted.
Thank you for your question.