Rectum


 

The rectum (from the Latin rectum intestinum, meaning straight intestine) is the final straight portion of the large intestine in some mammals, and the gut in others, terminating in the anus. The human rectum is about 12 cm long. Its size is similar to that of the sigmoid colon at its beginning, but it is dilated near its end, forming the rectal ampulla.
 As food passes through the
colon liquid and nutrients are absorbed and end up in the rectum where it collects until nerve endings in the rectum tell you that you need to have a bowel movement. During this process the anal sphincter muscles hold the anus closed until you are ready to evacuate.

 

The rectum acts as a temporary storage site for feces. As the rectal walls expand due to the materials filling it from within, stretch receptors from the nervous system located in the rectal walls stimulate the desire to defecate. If the urge is not acted upon, the material in the rectum is often returned to the colon where more water is absorbed. If defecation is delayed for a prolonged period, constipation and hardened feces result.
When the rectum becomes full, the increase in intra-rectal pressure forces the walls of the anal canal apart, allowing the fecal matter to enter the canal. The rectum shortens as material is forced into the anal canal and peristaltic waves propel the feces out of the rectum. The internal and external sphincter allow the feces to be passed by muscles pulling the anus up over the exiting feces.

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This information is strictly educational and is not, in any way, meant to prescribe or to constitute medical advice. The information provided is designed to be used in conjunction with the guidance of a healthcare professional. The author assumes no responsibility for any presumed health effects associated with using this information.