IBS and Mucus in the Stool

Mucus in the stool is a very common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Even so, scant research has been done about it. So no one can say for sure why the mucus is there or what it means about your digestive system.

This article looks at possible causes of mucus in the stool and what we know about its role in IBS.

What Is Mucus?

Mucus is a fluid produced by mucous membranes throughout your body. It moistens and protects the lining of many body parts systems. This includes:

  • The digestive tract
  • Respiratory organs
  • Reproductive organs
  • The urinary tract

Mucus can be thin or thick. It may be clear, green, yellow, or white. Mucus in the stool is usually white.

Causes of Mucus in Stool

Health conditions that may cause mucus in stool
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

Several digestive disorders besides IBS are associated with mucus in the stool:

Sudden onset of mucus in the stool can be a sign of a bacterial infection. Other symptoms to watch for are:

  • Urgent diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Fever
  • Bloody stools

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Mucus and IBS

Mucus in the stool is generally associated with inflammation. But studies on the role of inflammation in IBS don't even mention mucus.

A couple of small studies have talked about mucus in IBS. In one, just over half of people surveyed with IBS reported mucus in their stools.

Another small study suggested men with IBS were more likely than women to report mucus in their stools.

Clearly, more work needs to be done. It's possible that investigating mucus might lead to a better understanding of inflammation's role in the conditions.

Summary

Mucus lines many organs in your body. It's there to provide moisture and protection. Several digestive disorders involve mucus in the stool.

Little research has been done on mucus in IBS. It's unknown whether it's related to inflammation.

Studies have reported a 50% prevalence of mucusy stools in IBS. It may be more common in men.

A Word From Verywell

Mucus in the stool is considered a benign (harmless) IBS symptom. Still, tell your healthcare provider about it.

That way, they can check for more serious causes. That process can either set your mind at ease or help you get additional treatments you may need.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is mucus with diarrhea common?

    Yes, with certain gastrointestinal disorders. Common causes are bacterial infections from:

    • E. coli
    • Shigella
    • Salmonella
    • Campylobacter
    • Clostridium

    About 50% of people with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome report mucus in their stool.

  • What does bloody mucus in your stool mean?

    Bloody mucus in stool is often a sign of colorectal cancer. But it may also be caused by Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

    Talk to your healthcare provider if you have blood in your stool or other unusual symptoms.

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of irritable bowel syndrome.

  2. Ghoshal UC, Abraham P, Bhatt C, et al. Epidemiological and clinical profile of irritable bowel syndrome in India: report of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology Task Force. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2008;27(1):22-8.

  3. Camacho S, Bernal F, Abdo M, Awad RA. Endoscopic and symptoms analysis in Mexican patients with irritable Bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2010;82(4):953-62. doi:10.1590/S0001-37652010000400018

  4. Vahedi H, Ansari R, Mir-Nasseri M, Jafari E. Irritable bowel syndrome: a review article. Middle East J Dig Dis. 2010;2(2):66-77.

  5. St. Clair Health. Mucus in stool: A concern?