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Pelvic Floor Therapy For Constipation

Being constipated is more than annoying—it can cause health issues that are sometimes serious.

Constipation is defined as having a problem with passing stool, generally passing fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated have hard, dry or lumpy stools, and suffer from a feeling that not all stool has passed or that the rectum is blocked. It can also lead to straining or pain when passing stools—and straining can lead to other issues. Chronic constipation is when you have two or more of these symptoms for three months or longer.1

So what can you do about constipation? There are a number of treatment options, including pelvic floor therapy for constipation. Let’s take a look.

Constipation is No Laughing Matter

Don’t be embarrassed if you’re constipated. This is a medical issue that can have negative implications if left untreated.

While constipation can cause discomfort and irritation, it can also lead to:2

  • hemorrhoids
  • rectal bleeding
  • anal fissures or tears in the skin around the anus

There’s also the possibility of more serious complications:2

  1. Rectal prolapse, which is when the large intestine detaches inside the body and pushes out of the rectum.
  1. Fecal impaction, which is when hard, dry stool is stuck in the body and unable to be expelled naturally.

If you think you are suffering from either of these two conditions, it’s vital to see a doctor. Both can have serious side effects and require treatment from a health care professional.2

Pelvic Floor Therapy For Constipation

Constipation is fairly common and can be caused by a lack of dietary fiber, fluids and exercise. As a result, treatment often includes changes to diet and exercise, occasionally medication or changes to medication. Other medical conditions or certain medicines may be the cause, so other treatments might be required.1

For instance, constipation can be caused by pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, or prolapse of the bladder, rectum, or uterus. A prolapse can compress the rectum, compacting the bowels, or create pouches in the rectum where stool can get stuck. Other symptoms associated with prolapse include a feeling of heaviness or that something’s stuck in the vagina, or the need to press on perineum, vagina, or rectum to assist with defecation.3

That’s when pelvic floor therapy for constipation can be an effective treatment. That’s because your pelvic floor muscles play a role in bowel function. 

The pelvic floor is the hammock-like structure of muscles and ligaments that hold your pelvic organs in place, and also play a role in tensing and relaxing during bodily functions like peeing and pooping. The muscles must be able to relax enough to allow stool to pass but also maintain enough tension to support the rectum when you poop. Both tight and weak pelvic floor muscles are dysfunctional and can impact bowel movements.3

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy? 

It’s a series of manual techniques, exercise programs, diet and activity modifications, and education to treat constipation. One technique is called connective tissue manipulation, which releases restricted tissue in areas surrounding the pelvis. Manual release of pelvic floor muscles and relaxation exercises can help to alleviate muscle tightness. 

Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor may also help restore optimal function.3 Known commonly as “Kegels,” research has proven that pelvic floor exercises help keep pelvic floor muscles “fit.” Depending on the cause of constipation, Kegels may be an effective treatment as part of pelvic floor therapy. You can use tools like the INNOVO Urinary Incontinence Kit to help you perform Kegel exercises properly, in short 30-minute sessions. Subscribe to the INNOVO newsletter to receive a $20 discount code for your purchase.

Another form of pelvic floor therapy for constipation involves biofeedback training, which in some research seems to be a good treatment pelvic floor dyssynergia4, defined as any muscle dysfunction of the pelvic floor, like an absence of coordination between rectal pushing and anal canal relaxation, anal contraction, or inadequate relaxation.5 Once again, it depends on the cause of your constipation.

See A Doctor 

If you’re suffering from chronic constipation, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you, in particular if you have constipation with symptoms that last longer than three weeks or that make it difficult to do everyday activities. It’s vital to see a doctor if you have bleeding from your rectum or blood on toilet tissue, blood in your stools, black stools or other unusual changes in the shape or color of stools. You should also see a doctor if you have stomach pain that doesn’t stop or you’re losing weight without trying.1 Once the cause of your constipation is determined, you may be able to use pelvic floor therapy to alleviate your condition.

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