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Cracking the Code on Chronic Constipation


So, did you grow up in a family that was anti-potty humor? Or was it fair game?


It might seem like a silly question but our initial education on bowel movements starts with our parents’ or guardians’ perspective. 


It’s obviously a personal choice on how you monitor jokes in your house. However, an open conversation about bowel movements can help kids develop a good sense of their digestion and the ability to identify constipation. 


Unfortunately, a lot of people experience some degree of constipation whether they are fully aware of it or not. 


In an ideal world, you would have one bowel movement every day


Did we just blow your mind?


We don’t blame you — this ideal is foreign to many people. If you google “constipation” you are likely to see that 3 or more bowel movements per week are considered normal. But your friendly Peak Pelvic Health providers are here to tell you otherwise. 


Our healthcare system tends to lower the standard for an ideal healthy lifestyle. But, your body functions best with one bowel movement a day. 


When you can get yourself to this regularity — You start to feel amazing! 


But please don’t beat yourself up if this isn’t your current bowel movement schedule. We encourage you to read on to uncover some underlying pelvic floor issues that disrupt the pelvic organs and can cause constipation. 


Plus some handy tips to relieve the discomfort of constipation. 


What a Pelvic Floor Therapist Would Say About Constipation


Constipation is self-diagnosable and we would argue fewer than 6-7 stools a week is a symptom of constipation. But that is only one sign, here are a few more.


Your Constipation Cheat Sheet


  • “Fewer than seven stools a week

  • “Hard, dry, or lumpy stools.

  • Straining or pain when passing stools.

  • A feeling that not all stool has passed.

  • A feeling that the rectum is blocked.”  

If you said yes to any of these then you have experienced constipation. If you experience these symptoms often you may be living in a state of chronic constipation


While this may or may not be manageable in your day-to-day life chronic constipation is cause for concern. 


It’s not fun to live with constipation but there’s greater medical concern for those who are not able to find regularity.  An estimated “…50 percent of people with chronic constipation have pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD).”2


The mainstream symptom of constipation must be taken seriously as it can be increasingly problematic to your health if unaddressed. 


The Double-Edged Sword of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) and Constipation. 


From a pelvic floor perspective, constipation and PFDs go hand in hand. Chronic constipation can cause PFD and vice versa. Meaning If you suffer from a PFD your risk of constipation is higher. 


Why?


PFD is characterized by the inability to relax and coordinate the muscles in your pelvic floor. This can affect urinary function, bowel movements, core strength, sex life, birth and more.3

Conversely, chronic constipation puts pressure on the pelvic floor and pelvic organs. This pressure can cause either weakened or hypertonic muscles leading to a PFD. 


Signs and Symptoms of PFD4

  • Bladder leakage with exercise

  • Pain or pressure in your pelvic area, lower back, or hips 

  • Pain during a bowel movement or while urinating

  • Frequent Urination and difficulty emptying the bladder

  • Constipation 

  • Incontinence

  • Pain during sex, using tampons, or gynecology exams 

  • Erectile dysfunction or pain with erection or ejaculation


Underlying Causes of Constipation 

A general search online will tell you diet and water intake are the first culprits to cause constipation. And while we agree good gut health and nutrition are vital for reducing constipation, it’s not the only factor. 


What if you are the model citizen of a high fiber diet and lots of water yet, you still can’t seem to go…


If you’ve talked to your Doctor and ruled out any other underlying issues like GI and gut or autoimmune disorders — what’s their next suggestion?


More often than not… it's medication. 


We understand medication is occasionally the quick fix to turn to —  but it makes for a very poor long-term solution.


A Mayo Clinic article states, “When mechanical, anatomic, and disease or diet-related causes of constipation have been ruled out, clinical suspicion should be raised to the possibility of PFD…”1


Consider this — Do you have any other symptoms of PFD? (see our list above)

If so, your constipation may be affected by diet but not resolved without improvements to your pelvic floor health. 


That’s where Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can step in. 


Why Pelvic Floor Coordination Impacts Our Bowel Movements


New education is pointing towards the benefit of auditory and visual feedback (aka biofeedback). A specialize therapist can help retrain your pelvic floor muscles, relax the anal sphincter, and coach you how to push effectively without straining. 1


With proper bowel movements, there is an aspect of colon mobility and coordination of your pelvic floor muscles that allow you to push correctly. Peak Pelvic Health prioritizes this training in assisting patients with weakened or hypertonic pelvic floors. 


In some studies, biofeedback training has shown improvements for 70% of patients1. This practice helps patients identify internal sensations and provides them with improved bowel movement regularity and long-term skills to practice at home1.


Naturally Relieve Constipation with 4 Easy Tips


  1. Drinking enough water


When we’re dehydrated our large intestines will try to soak up water from food waste5, leaving your bowels dry and hard. Drinking water will encourage your body to flush away unneeded waste.


How much water? A good rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces. Someone who weighs 150 lbs would be aiming for about 75 oz/day. Keep in mind activity level, sweating and heat can affect your hydration. 


  1. Eat fruits and vegetables


 If you can the natural fibers and nutrition from real fruits and veggies can drastically assist your regularity. But we understand that some people have allergies, and gut-related issues that might hinder their consumption.


  1. Use a squatty potty or stool under your feet 


Don’t be shy, a stool under the feet can be a game-changer for your bowels. This lifted position assists your pelvic floor and allows your muscles to relax. 


  1. Get some daily movement or exercise 


Working out is great but even a short walk can help your digestive system kick into gear. 


Regularity is Possible. Peak Pelvic Health Can Help


If you struggle to maintain regularity and consistently combat constipation it might be time to talk to a pelvic floor therapist. 


Peak Pelvic Health is here to help you uncover the underlying issues of constipation and possible PFDs. Using biofeedback to retrain the pelvic floor and holistic behavior modification we can increase your bowel movement regularity. 




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