Mucus in Stool - Is it Normal?

Mucus in stool is something which you may worry about if you see it when you have a bowel movement. This latest article for diarrheanurse.com is to give you the lowdown on mucus, what it does, when it is normal and when it could be a sign that you may have a problem.

Is Mucus in Stool Normal?

The answer to this question is yes and no. Mucus in stool is a normal state of affairs but it is not often visible to the naked eye.

Mucus is a slippery gel like secretion which is produced by cells which are found in the mucous membrane, a layer which lines many cavities in the body.

The topmost layer of the mucous membrane (or mucosa) is called the epithelium and it needs to be kept moist to prevent cracks. It also needs to be protected to prevent unfriendly germs entering the body and to stop damage from strong fluids like acid in the stomach.

Mucus in Stool - Slide of the Normal Intestinal MucosaNormal Intestinal Mucosa

Tubes and cavities which have an opening to the outside such as the respiratory system, the auditory system (ears), the visual system, the genitourinary system and the gastrointestinal system need special protection.

As these tubes have an opening to the environment around us they need a line of defense.

The mucus in your nose, throat, lips, ears, eyelids, genital tract, anus and intestines helps to trap bacteria, viruses and fungi and it also contains antiseptic enzymes which help to kill these unwanted invaders.

The mucous layer also helps to lubricate these tubes to prevent drying out and cracking which would leave them more vulnerable to attack and in the case of the intestines it makes it easier for the stools to move along towards their destination in the toilet!

A small amount of mucus in stool is therefore normal and desirable but if the amount produced becomes noticeable then it could be an indication that you have a problem.

Why Have I Seen An Increase In Mucus In My Stool?

We have established that mucus in stool is normal but if when you have a bowel movement you are noticing mucus coating your stools or on the toilet tissue then this could indicate that you have an increase in mucus production and that something is wrong.

Your body usually increases its production of mucus in response to inflammation. We all know that when we catch a cold we have more mucus produced in our nostrils. This is trying to trap the cold virus particles and expel them from our bodies.

Inflammation is a normal bodily reaction to harmful assaults from things like bacteria and viruses. It has a protective action but it has to be carefully regulated by the body because too little inflammation will allow the invading germs to take hold but too much can lead to chronic diseases like rheumatoid  arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease.

It has recently been found (2013) by a research team in Barcelona that intestinal mucus has an anti-inflammatory effect. So if you see mucus when you open your bowels this could be in response to inflammation caused by a disorder of the bowel.

What Color is Mucus?

Mucus in stool is usually white or yellow but sometimes it can be clear. It is usually gel like and is often stringy.

Which Bowel Disorders Cause Mucus In Stool?

Most of the disorders below are associated with inflammation of the intestinal tract. The exception is irritable bowel syndrome. With this bowel problem it is the function of the large bowel which is disrupted but the actual bowel itself is normal. However, mucus in stool is can be seen with IBS-C so it could be that the hard stools from constipation are causing irritation in the large intestine and rectum.


  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Intestinal infections
  • Parasitic infestations
  • Hemorrhoids (piles)
  • Anal fistulas (abnormal channel between the anal canal and the skin)
  • Anal fissures (a tear or ulcer in the lining of the anal canal)
  • Constipation
  • Cancer


What About Mucus Without Stool?

Sometimes people pass mucus without stool being present. The slang term for this is a 'wet fart'. This tends to happen when the level of mucus being produced is higher than normal and it is accompanied by gas.

This can be embarrassing and awkward to cope with as it usually leaves you with damp underwear. If this happens to you regularly then you should see a doctor but also try investing in some light pads to protect your underwear.

When Should I See A Doctor?

If you only very occasionally see a tiny amount of mucus in stool and it is not accompanied by any other symptoms then you do not need to see a doctor but in these other cases medical investigation is necessary:


  • If you suddenly start seeing mucus in your stool or on the toilet tissue
  • If you have been diagnosed with a bowel disorder where you have mucus in your stool but the amount increases
  • If the mucus is accompanied by other symptoms like blood, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or constipation you should see a doctor urgently
  • If you also have a change in your bowel habits

So if you have visible amounts of mucus in your stool or on the toilet tissue then it is time to see a doctor. This can be a worrying sign as it can be associated with some serious disorders (although not always) but whatever is causing your mucus in stool the more quickly it is diagnosed the better the chance of a good outcome.

Mucus or Mucous?

N.B. Just in case you were wondering mucus is a noun or thing and mucous is an adjective used to describe other things like for example mucous layer.

Mucus or Mucous?

N.B. Just in case you were wondering mucus is a noun or thing and mucous is an adjective used to describe other things like for example mucous layer.


DiarrheaNurse hopes that this article has been useful and that if you are seeing mucus in your stool you get medical advice and find an answer to your problem. If you would like more information about some of the disorders mentioned in this article then please see the links below:


21 Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Twenty one different symptoms could show you have ulcerative colitis. It's not just the gut!

Go to 21 Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Crohn's Disease Symptoms - Could This Be Your Problem?

Find out here which symptoms to look out for.

Go to Crohn's Disease Symptoms - Could This Be Your Problem?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Risk Factors and Symptoms

There are different types of inflammatory bowel disease with many and varied symptoms. Find out more!

Go to Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Risk Factors and Symptoms

Diverticular Disease - Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

As we age we are more likely to suffer from diverticular disease. Find out which symptoms to look for here.

Go to Diverticular Disease - Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Diverticulitis Symptoms and Complications

Diverticular disease can progress to diverticulitis and cause illness and distress. Do you know what to look out for?

Go to Diverticulitis Symptoms and Complications

IBS Symptoms - The 7 Main Things to Look Out For

Check the chief symptoms that might indicate IBS.

Go to IBS Symptoms - The 7 Main Things to Look Out For

10 Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms That May Surprise You

You think that IBS is just pain and diarrhea or constipation? Think again, there are many more symptoms to consider.

Go to 10 Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms That May Surprise You

21 IBS Treatment Options

Times are moving on and great new treatments are now available!

Go to 21 IBS Treatment Options

C Diff - Are You At Risk?

This infection can be deadly. Find out about this menace!

Go to C. Diff - Are You at Risk?

Salmonella Symptoms

Read about the symptoms and how to prevent this horrible infection.

Go to Salmonella Symptoms - Causes, Treatment and Prevention

7 Signs of Colon Cancer

Do you know what to look for? Get educated and save your life.

Go to 7 Signs of Colon Cancer - Know What to Look For

Photo attribution:

Normal Colonic Mucosa by Ed Uthman, MD (http://www.Flickr.com/photos/euthman/2802708709/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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