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How to Prevent Anal Fissures
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jun 07, 2011
Few health challenges can generate as much pain as a chronic anal fissure. This article explains how an anal fissure develops, and how to promote healing of an anal fissure using natural methods.
What is an Anal Fissure?
An anal fissure is a tear of any size in the anus. If you've ever noticed a spot or two of bright red blood on your toilet tissue after having an uncomfortable bowel movement, you have likely experienced an anal fissure.
An anal fissure can lead to burning, stinging, or sharp pain during bowel movements. The pain can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. In severe cases, the pain can cause a spasm of muscles that surround the rectum, which can cause the pain to intensify.
Fortunately, most anal fissures heal rapidly on their own. When a fissure doesn't heal within a few weeks, it's usually because one or more root causes continue to aggravate the fissure.
Root Causes of Anal Fissures
The most obvious cause of an anal fissure is direct trauma to the anal canal. Childbirth, anal intercourse, and insertion of any foreign bodies into the anal canal can cause a fissure.
Chronic constipation and chronic diarrhea can also cause an anal fissure by repeatedly straining the lining of the anus.
In the vast majority of cases, an underlying cause is chronic tension in a muscular ring - called the internal anal sphincter - that surrounds the anal canal.
If your internal anal sphincter is chronically tense, blood flow to this region is reduced. Reduced blood flow causes the lining of your anus to become more susceptible to tearing. Reduced blood flow to your anus also makes it harder for a fissure to heal.
This is why some people tear relatively easily when they try to pass hard stools, while others don't develop a fissure even when chronically constipated - the tone of your internal anal sphincter largely determines if an anal fissure will develop when your anal canal is excessively stretched.
So what can cause your internal anal sphincter to be chronically tense? In the absence of overt neurological dysfunction, the most common cause of a hypertonic internal anal sphincter is ongoing emotional stress.
Emotional stress causes your autonomic nervous system to gear up to fight or run for your life. One of the consequences of being chronically amped for a fight or flight response is a tense and dysfunctional gastrointestinal tract, which includes a taut internal anal sphincter.
Without exception, every person that has come to me looking for a way to heal a chronic anal fissure has reported experiencing significant emotional stress around the time that the anal fissure first appeared.
My experience has been that botox injections, lateral internal sphincterotomy, application of nitroglycerin ointment, and other conventional medical treatments for a chronic anal fissure tend to lead to temporary healing at best and a re-occurrence of the fissure if emotional stress continues to take its toll on the internal anal sphincter.
Natural Ways to Promote Healing of an Anal Fissure
What follows are natural ways to prevent and heal a chronic anal fissure:
1. Avoid using soap on your anus
As explained in my article on why you shouldn't use soap on your private parts, it's best to wash your anus with warm or hot water without the use of soap or other personal care products. Regular use of soap to clean your anus can cause the lining of your anal canal to become dry, predisposing it to tears when stretched excessively.
2. If your anal sphincter is dry or you have an existing fissure, use coconut oil to moisturize the area.
Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for all of your body's linings. Coconut oil also appears to have healing properties for wounds - some health practitioners in Indonesia have long used coconut oil to effectively treat bed sores and other skin lesions.
Don't be afraid to apply coconut oil to your anal sphincter several times a day. If your anus is dry or you have a chronic fissure, it's best to apply coconut oil to the area throughout the day and before you go to bed.
3. Take a warm or hot bath at least once a day.
Immersing your body in warm or hot water can help relax your internal anal sphincter, which will allow better blood flow to the area.
Consider visualizing rich blood flow to your anal sphincter as you soak in the tub, as we know that the mind-body connection is capable of producing real physiological effects. To facilitate the use of visualization to promote rich blood flow to your anus, try placing one of your hands against your perineum (the region between your genitals and your anus) to give your mind a palpable target.
4. Work at experiencing comfortable bowel movements.
For comprehensive information on how to promote healthy bowel movements, please view:
5. Strive to feel emotionally balanced.
None of the above is likely to lead to lasting improvement unless you work at consistently feeling emotionally balanced.
If you're not sure where to begin with addressing your emotional stressors, please have a look at the mind-body exercises found here:
Although the article cited above was originally written for people looking for help with depression, the mind-body exercises found in that article can be extremely helpful when looking to feel emotionally balanced.
If you're currently suffering with a chronic anal fissure, I hope that you find the suggestions in this article to be helpful. Please note that some fissures can be caused by inflammatory bowel conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Fissures can also develop when a person has syphilis, tuberculosis, a weak immune system, or anal cancer. Anal fissures that are caused by excessive stretching and a tight internal anal sphincter almost always occur at the north or south poles of the anal sphincter. The other causes of anal fissures listed here often cause fissures along the sides of the anus. Anal fissures are easily diagnosed with a visual examination, so please see your doctor if you are unsure about your status.
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