Anal Fissures

Article reviewed by Marc Steben

What is an anal fissure?

Anal fissure is a condition that can affect people of all ages. It is a deep tear or chronic ulcer (a sore on the surface of an organ or tissue) in the membrane of the anal canal, just below the dentate line. If you think you may have an anal fissure, you should see a health care professional right away. Treatment options are available to help relieve your symptoms and prevent other complications.

anal fissuresWhat are the symptoms of anal fissure?

An anal fissure is extremely painful during and after a bowel movement. The pain can last for several minutes to several hours and can be accompanied by a small amount of bleeding (bright red blood on the toilet paper). Fissures are often a chronic or recurring problem.

What causes an anal fissure?

Decreased blood flow in the anal lining, and trauma, may be involved in the development of anal fissures. They can also be caused by hard, dry bowel movements or bouts of acute diarrhea.

Is anal fissure common in pregnancy or after delivery?

About 10-15% of women experience anal fissure during pregnancy or after delivery.

When does anal fissure occur?

Difficult bowel movements (constipation) are strongly associated with anal fissure, and are the most common trigger in pregnant women.

In most cases, anal fissures develop in the first two months after delivery. High-birthweight babies, lengthy labour, overdue pregnancy and constipation after delivery are associated with a risk of anal fissure. A caesarean section does not protect against it.