Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum, and can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). While proctitis has many causes, sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia or herpes, are the most common cause. Treatment depends on the cause of proctitis - if a sexually transmitted infection is causing proctitis, your health provider may prescribe antibiotics or antivirals to treat the infection.
For more information on symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention see the Overview section.
Information for Health Professionals
Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum, called the rectal mucosa. Proctitis can be short term (acute) or long term (chronic).
The most common symptom is a frequent or continuous urge to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms include:
- A feeling of rectal fullness.
- Passing mucus through the rectum.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Pain in the rectum or anus.
Proctitis has many causes. Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia or herpes, are the most common cause.
Proctitis may also be a side effect of medical treatments like radiation therapy or antibiotics, or it may be related to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (conditions that cause inflammation in the colon or small intestine). Other causes include rectal injury, non-sexually transmitted infections, and allergies.
Proctitis that isn't treated or that doesn't respond to treatment may lead to complications, including:
- Anemia (low number of healthy oxygen red blood cells).
- Rectal ulcers.
- Fistulas (an abnormal connection between different parts of your intestine or between your intestine and other organs)
Physicians diagnose proctitis by looking inside the rectum with a lighted scope. Tests may be taken for gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes.
A stool sample may be tested for infecting bacteria. If your health care provider suspects Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, a colonoscopy or barium enema x-rays may be used to look at areas of the intestine. A biopsy (a tiny piece of tissue from the rectum) may be taken to look for these diseases.
Treatment depends on the cause of proctitis.
If a sexually transmitted infection is causing proctitis, your health provider may prescribe antibiotics or antivirals to treat the infection. People you have had sex with should also be tested and treated.
If the proctitis is caused by Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, your health provider mayprescribe drugs that are either applied directly to the area or taken orally in pill form.
There are certain sexual behaviours that can put you at risk of getting sexually transmitted proctitis, including having:
- receptive anal/oral-anal sex without a condom.
- multiple sex partners.
- anal sex with a partner who has an STI.