Constipation & The Pelvic Floor
Constipation puts immense pressure on the pelvic floor. Although you cannot see these muscles, they do play a huge role in your life.
Did you know that as many as 50 percent of people with constipation have pelvic floor dysfunction? And ABSOLUTELY NOBODY should be ashamed of it.
If only people were taught this then we could dramatically reduce this number. Understanding our pelvic floor function and knowing how to correctly do a poo would save so many from having issues. Want to know how to do a poo correctly? Then you need to read this, Why you should never poo without a stool
A weak pelvic floor can affect your sex life, social activities, exercise and problems such as urinary and faecal (bowel) incontinence. But not many talk about the effects that constipation has on the pelvic floor. The fact that these symptoms are still taboo for many people does not make it any easier. But not for us here at Secret Whispers.
We can educate you on how you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and what benefits you will get by regularly doing your Kegel exercises Also, do not be afraid to talk openly about it with your medical practitioner, friends and family. You will be surprised how in just opening up this conversation how many have the same issues and will be glad of the support in talking about it.
Education is key and understanding that weak pelvic floor issues are very common but not normal and can be easily improved for so many.
Can Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles Cause
Yes, weak pelvic floor muscles can cause constipation.
Pelvic floor muscle strength is very important for both bowel and bladder control. The chronic straining that comes with constipation can lead to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Doing Kegel exercises helps to strengthen and relax the pelvic floor muscles including the circular muscles around the anus which are called anal sphincters. We will talk more on this next.
So, we know now that constipation can cause the pelvic floor to weaken but did you know that a weak pelvic floor muscles can also cause constipation?
You can develop a rectocele. This is a posterior wall prolapse - when the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina.
This causes problem when trying to empty your bowel. The poo can get stuck and this in turn leads to further straining. So having a pelvic floor that is flexible is so important for emptying your bowels.
The pelvic floor is a complex mechanism, stretching from the coccyx to the pubic bone and from the sides to the hips. Think of it as your ‘Lady Hammock’ holding up your Uterus, Bladder and Rectum. These pelvic floor muscles normally are firm, thick, and resemble a muscular trampoline in its ability to move up and down. The pelvic floor muscles are similar to our arms, legs, or abdominal muscles and need to be exercised regularly.
This picture above shows the pelvic floor muscles and the additional circular muscles that surround the urethra and anus. These circular muscles around the anus (the anal sphincter) and around the urethra (the urethral sphincter) are to better maintain a closed state.
These sphincters (urethral and anal sphincters) provide conscious control over the bladder and bowel, so that we are able to control the release of urine, faeces (stools) and flatus (wind) and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient.
When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted they lift the internal organs upwards and tighten the sphincters openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles allows for passage of faeces and urine.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the fact that human health begins in the gut. So, it is related to what we eat, but not only our diet significantly affects the work of our digestive system and intestines. The pelvic floor muscles are the "controller" of our bowel movements, and if you suffer from constipation, you need to pay more attention to them. Unfortunately, still too many people forget about their pelvic floor muscles. The consequences can be unpleasant and lower the quality of life. It also often results in gas retention and difficulty controlling bowel movements. Straining, hard, or thin stools, and a feeling of incomplete elimination, a long time between bowel movements and abdominal pain are common symptoms.
We did a blog How Your Gut Health Impacts Your Pelvic Floor. How our gut is so complex that it is often referred to as our “second brain.”
We also have an AMAZING book available 31 pages Delving into The World of Gut Health
Now, it is really important that we understand how important with relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Relaxation is important for bowel emptiness and when your pelvic floor is not relaxing properly this leads to outlet constipation.
Can Constipation Cause Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Yes, constipation can cause pelvic floor dysfunction as we have discussed above. The straining with constipation can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. If you think you may have a prolapse please read this blog which includes some helpful diagrams - Have I got a prolapse? Signs and symptoms explained.
To help avoid constipation, it is helpful to know what the common causes of constipation are:
- Eating a lot of unhealthy processed foods and not getting enough fiber
- No regular eating patterns
- Drinking a lot of caffeine and sugary drinks
- Not drinking enough water
- Not enough exercise
- And of course, a weak pelvic floor
Can Constipation Cause Pelvic Floor Pain?
Yes, constipation can cause pelvic floor pain. Constipation puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor. If the pelvic floor is not strong enough that may cause pain. But do not worry, I have two solutions that can relieve your pain.
Firstly, remember you are what you eat!
A balanced diet plays an especially significant role in the functioning of the digestive system. Pain in the intestines, a bloated stomach and constipation appear very often after eating heavy meals containing a large amount of animal fats. In addition, the low fiber content in the diet causes the intestinal peristalsis to slow down, which makes the stool hard and difficult to pass. Also, make sure your diet is well-balanced and that you eat regular meals (4-5 meals a day) and plenty of whole grains.
In addition, getting the right fluid intake helps you avoid constipation. Drinking 2 liters of still water a day and including fruit or vegetable juices in your diet helps prevent bowel problems. Also, it is worth looking at your lifestyle because it may turn out that constipation is related to a lack of exercise and physical activity. Then finally, CHEW your food. I know you are busy, and you might think if you eat fast, you can save some time. But the consequences may result in you just needing to spend more time on the toilet. Is it worth it?
However, it is worth remembering that if constipation occurs regularly and your diet is balanced, it is necessary to check it with your doctor. Often the simplest lifestyle changes can help. Sometimes it is far more complex, and a doctor’s opinion may be required to find out the cause. Start with lifestyle changes and if there is no improvement after a few weeks then seek further help.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is always a good idea.
See how to do Kegels correctly: A Step-By-Step Guide To Do Kegel Exercises
How to Relax Pelvic Floor Muscles for Constipation
To relax pelvic floor muscles for constipation, you can:
- Practice breathing
- Sit properly in the toilet
- Do some activity
- Change your toilet habits
1. Practice breathing
If you are sitting on the toilet without any results, it may be worth taking a deep breath. Learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles is important. Concentrate on deep breathing and imagine being able to breathe out deeper into your body, towards the anus, tailbone. Also, have your feet on a stool, lean forward and make a 'mooing' sound..... It really works!.
2. Sit properly in the toilet
To allow for your pelvic floor muscles to relax as much as possible, you need to position yourself properly in the toilet. Use a stool to help raise your knees higher, ideally above the hips. To learn more, check: Why you should never poo without a stool
3. Do some activity
A daily walk or run can help you poo more regularly so start doing more exercise when you can, join a club or go to a gentle exercise class to get started. It helps to prevent constipation, regulates bowel movements, and positively influences the functioning of the digestive system.
4. Change your toilet habits
Try to keep a regular time and place to use the toilet, your body will get into a routine. In addition, do not delay if you feel the urge to poo.
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