Final digestive actions in the gastrointestinal tract

Defecation is the last stage of digestion in which the organisms get rid of the semi-solid and solid waste materials from the gastrointestinal tract through the anus. The entire digestive system includes the gastrointestinal tract and accessory glands. The component of the gastrointestinal tract consists of the mouth at the beginning, followed by the esophagus, stomach, intestine, and anus. It also consists of a few solid organs including, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The waves produced in the walls of the colon by muscular contraction helps in the elimination of fecal material from the digestive tract towards the rectum. Another name for it is egestion. The rectum is a type of distensible muscular tube that works as a temporary reservoir of waste materials. When the wall of the rectum expands during the accumulation of waste materials, the stretch receptors of the nervous system, found in the rectal walls, promote the aspiration to defecate. The fecal matter implores every 1-2 minutes until not removed, and if not eliminated, it returns to the colon, and more water is absorbed. Delayed defecation for a longer period leads to constipation.

Physiology of Final Digestive Action in the Gastrointestinal Tract
The rectum ampulla keeps the fecal materials (stool or poop) before elimination. Since the waste gets filled in the rectum, it starts expanding the walls of the rectum. Then the stretch receptors located in the walls of the rectum help in the stimulation of the desire for defecation. The urge to defecate increases due to the following actions:

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Reflex contraction taking place in the rectal muscles

The easing of the internal anal sphincter

The beginning of the contraction over the skeletal muscles located in the external anal sphincter

When the urge to poop is not fulfilled, the waste particles of the rectum go back to the colon through the process of reverse peristalsis. Here, more water absorption occurs, and the feces are kept until further mass peristaltic movement occurs in the transverse and descending colon. In case the rectum is full, an enhanced pressure produced in the rectum pressurizes beside the walls of the anal canal, permitting the fecal matter to move into the channel. The size of the rectum reduces since the objects move towards the canal. In addition, the external and internal anal sphincters, together with puborectalis muscles, permit the feces to proceed with the help of muscle dragging the anus up over the exiting feces.

Voluntary and Involuntary Control and Fecal Incontinence

Voluntary control regulates the external anal sphincter, but involuntary movements regulate the internal anal sphincter. In the case of infants, it is happening due to the reflex action with no voluntary control over the external anal sphincter. In adults, defecation is a voluntary process. By the method of toilet training, the younger children tend to learn voluntary control over the defecation. However, the loss of self-control after training is known as fecal incontinence. The fecal incontinence happens temporarily due to any physical injury, followed by surgeries such as episiotomy, nerve injury, constipation, intense fright, loss of storage capacity in the rectum, inflammatory bowel disease, childbirth, neurological or psychological factors, or during a bout of diarrhea.

In this situation, people fail to control the urge to defecate, which spontaneously arises. As a result, going to the toilet in time becomes difficult. This process is known as urge incontinence.

Another form of fecal incontinence occurs in people unaware of eliminating the stool; this kind is passive incontinence.

In few cases, the incompetence to maintain the bowel movement or because of more fear, egestion happens along with urination as involuntarily, leads to soiling of a person’s underwear.


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