Constipation can be both a hindrance to pelvic health conditions & a consequence of; as well as a stressor to the body, a contributor to back pain, a mood inhibitor, a flaw in our body’s detoxification pathway and many other negatives. So something definitely worth addressing if you’re experiencing it!
It’s widely reported that a “normal” range for bowel movements is between 3 times a day and 3 times a week, but many women’s health physios advise that you aim for a daily bowel movement ideally, because of all the reasons above!
If you’re constipated and find yourself straining on a regular basis, that additional pressure can (further) weaken your pelvic floor and potentially contribute to (or worsen) pelvic organ prolapse (i.e. when your pelvic organs start to descend into places they shouldn’t be).
Equally, if you’re struggling with a hypertonic pelvic floor (one with too much tone in it), you might struggle to relax your pelvic floor sufficiently to empty your bowels properly.
So here are a few key things to think about to help with constipation:
- Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre and ensure that you’re drinking c. 1.5-2L of fluid per day. Things like prune juice, chia & flax seeds (ideally soaked overnight) can be really helpful.
- Increase your movement / exercise.
- Sit properly on the toilet – no hovering!
- Ensure that your knees are higher than your hips when you go to the toilet, The natural squat position improves our ability to empty our bowels by taking out the kink in our colons that normally holds everything in. And therefore the whole process requires less pressure. Check out the Squatty Potty for more info, but a simple foot stool or a couple of loo rolls would suffice.
- Don’t strain or hold your breath and relax your abdominal muscles. Many women finding shushing or growling helpful for ensuring that they’re relaxing the right muscles.
- Try out some abdominal massage. The I Love You technique is particularly helpful for constipation.
- Check your stools to see what your bowels are trying to tell you (see the Bristol Stool Chart). You’re aiming for type 3 or 4.
- See your GP if you’re still struggling.