Bowel Movements, Constipation & the Pelvic Floor
The vagina and pelvic floor have numerous villains that conspire against its ideal function.
Many things in life can contribute to a loss of tone in the pelvic floor muscles but the reverse is also true and some can develop too much tone. The tone in our pelvic floor directly influences our elimination - pee and poop and can sometimes mess with optimal function.
How do we move from feeling like a victim of our own function, to honoring our victorious vaginas and powerful pelvic floors?
Pregnancy and childbirth
For many women, pelvic floor challenges like incontinence and prolapse only start to happen after having babies and are often left saying 'why didn't anyone tell me this was a possibility?' We can assume there may be some disruption in function after basically pushing a watermelon through a much smaller hole! (The vagina expands to accommodate babies but this visual is what many women refer to).
There is additional weight on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, changes in posture, altered breathing mechanics, a shifting centre of gravity, hormones...and then of course, the birth itself.
Non-Pregnancy Related challenges
If you haven’t had babies, and you’re experiencing pelvic floor challenges… a big reason is CONSTIPATION!
What Is Constipation?
Thankfully, we are talking about poop more often these days with poop emojis everywhere you turn. Years ago, the topic was hush-hush and often we were constipated and didn’t know it. You may have gone to the bathroom every 3-7 days and thought that was NORMAL!
Even now, many of you will go to your doctor and be told that if you go every three days that is fine. But this is not fine my friends. Normal stools, as Mother Nature intended, means going to the bathroom every single day - at least once but twice is great! Think about your dog, it eats, sleeps, and poops EVERY single day, we should be too.
The longer your waste products stay in your body, the drier they become and the harder they are to pass.
When you have to push to poop you put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor and this can contribute to incontinence and organ prolapse which is when the bladder, uterus and/or rectum shift out of their optimal position and bulge into or descend into the vagina.
Constipation Ripple Effect
Constipation can cause side effects in different systems. Perhaps at night you feel like you have to pee but didn’t, the reason may be that the poop sitting in your intestine was putting pressure on the vaginal wall and bladder, making you feel like you have to go to the bathroom.
Our bodies are an ecosystem, and everything is interconnected. When one function goes haywire, it will cause issues in other areas too.
Constipation also makes your body anxious as it causes you to build up a significant amount of toxicity, which irritates and creates stress on your system. If you already have a prolapse, you will often then feel anxious about poop in general which can in turn contribute to constriction and constipation.
The Mess of Stress
When you’re in the stressed state, it further aggravates constipation because let’s face it, your sphincters (the gateway for your poo to come out; controlled by the autonomic nervous system) are tense under stress and they simply can’t open and close efficiently. When you are calm and relaxed, they can expand and contract with ease.
How To Reduce Constipation and Stress
Since constipation is an epidemic, what can we do to alleviate this situation and create a better, healthier environment for our vajayjays and pelvic floors to become victorious?
Let’s work at improving the function of our bowels, reducing the pressure and stress and make sure everything is happy-go-lucky.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs are a legendary ancient health practice, which serves as the foundation of health for the body. With health being rooted in the digestive system it is a great go-to and It involves placing a dressing over the liver with organic cotton and castor oil. The castor oil pack allows you to be your own best doctor, dressing the problem area and allowing you to rebuild faith in your body’s ability to heal, thus making that a reality!
Castor oil packs help you to:
- Poop Better - By improving smooth muscle tone and relieving constipation, thus reducing the pressure in your intra-abdominal cavity.
- Sleep Better - When the pack is placed on the body, the soft compression helps to move it from the sympathetic state into the parasympathetic, relaxed state.
- Bloat Less - The packs reduce core inflammation, leading to less bloating and reduction of intra-abdominal pressure.
- Stress Less - As soon as it’s placed on your body, the castor oil pack stimulates oxytocin and dopamine; two feel-good hormones that reduce our stress hormone (cortisol) and make us feel satisfied, safe and relaxed.
Diet is key to eliminating constipation. Keeping a food diary with foods we eat and assuring we drink plenty of water, along with high-fiber foods help. High-fiber foods add bulk to the stools. Many benefit from adding more plants to their diet to help with constipation and improve gut health.
People with poor sphincter control or low awareness of the urge to poop may find a bowel training program effective. This can involve:
- exercises to help strengthen the muscles for better control
- learning to use the bathroom at certain times of the day, such as after a meal
Pelvic floor muscle training, or Kegel exercises, can help strengthen muscles that have been weakened or stretched during labor or chronic straining.
We are here to help!
Fill out the form below/in the sidebar to speak with one of our Pelvic Floor Professionals and get clarity on all the options available to you.