Incomplete Bowel Movement

By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, BHMS

Incomplete bowel movement

Its frustrating when you get the urge to go a lot but only a little comes out.

It results in a feeling rectal fullness and frequent but unproductive straining. Lets look at the possible causes behind incomplete bowel movements, and what can be done about it.


When you’re constipated, straining is frequently needed. Often times constipation comes with a feeling of incomplete emptying. Stool that is dry, hard and compacted doesn’t move easily through the rectum.

Fortunately, for most people constipation need only be a temporary event. Simple measures like staying hydrated, getting a bit of exercise and eating fiber rich foods may be all that’s needed to defeat constipation and the resulting incomplete bowel movements. 

Another super easy solution is to take a daily magnesium supplement.  

  • Magnesium has the ability to draw water into the colon and thereby add moisture to the fecal matter, making it soft and easier to pass.

  • The extra moisture helps to bulk up stool. A bulky stool is what stimulates, the natural wave-like contractions of the colon that push fecal matter along. 

Crohn’s disease

This is a common cause of incomplete bowel movements. It is characterized by inflammatory patches in the gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, incomplete bowel movements, blood in stools and weight loss. Mild cases may be managed with medication.

Ulcerative colitis

Here’s another common inflammatory bowel disease that is characterized by bloody diarrhea, colicky abdominal pain and incomplete defecation with an inability to empty to bowel.

It may also cause systemic symptoms, including fever, weight loss and body pains.

Careful diagnosis is required to plan the treatment and management of ulcerative colitis. Medications may be effective for mild cases.

Irritable bowel syndrome

IBS is a functional disorder that has no structural pathology. In other words, no physical causes are evident.

Associated symptoms of IBS include bloating and distension and a change in bowel habits. It is a chronic condition that may have phases of remission and phases of flare ups.

Although there is no cure for irritable bowel disease, dietary and lifestyle modifications can help in managing the symptoms and preventing flare ups.

A magnesium supplement may also prove helpful, especially when taken daily for at least a month.

Anorectal masses

Polyps, colorectal cancers or large hemorrhoids may contribute to the feeling of incomplete evacuation of bowel movements.

These conditions need to be correctly evaluated so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a less common cause of the symptom incomplete emptying and bowel movements. It is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and affect the general health.

Symptoms may include abdominal bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue. The treatment of celiac disease involves medications and dietary changes.

Conclusion, incomplete bowel movements

The treatment of incomplete emptying is based on understanding the underlying cause.

With proper blood tests and investigations, diagnosis is made and treatment can begin. Appropriate medications, dietary changes, regular exercise and lifestyle modifications can be very helpful.

(Return from Incomplete Bowel Movement to Causes of Constipation)

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