Splinting Is The Latest Trend To Help Eliminate Constipation
Vaginal splinting, a tried-and-true method to relieve constipation without straining, went viral. A doctor explains the unorthodox method, and when to use it.
A little-known way to relieve constipation without straining recently found fame on social media.
Chronicled in a TikTok video by a woman in the United Kingdom, vaginal splinting is poised to becoming the No. 1 technique to relieve No. 2.
Splinting involves inserting a clean finger into the vagina to push on the wall between the vagina and rectum, or the perineum. The push helps evacuate stool during a bowel movement.
Its estimated that up to 30% of women use this technique to occasionally help with bowel movements.
Hook your thumb in your vagina, the TikTok user explains. You can feel the poop and you can just it out. Let me know how it goes. Youre welcome.
While the method may seem unorthodox, its a valid way of easing constipation for some women, especially if you experience some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction, says Pamela Fairchild, M.D., an obstetric gynecologist at Von Voigtlander Womens Hospital who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Strain And Push The Rectum
If you feel that the large intestine and the rectum are ready to eliminate the stool, then push the intestines and rectum hard. Try to visualize and feel how the matter inside the large intestine moves towards the rectum.
After you relax the puborectalis muscles and sphincter with squatting and short breaks, the stool will have a clear path towards the rectum.
What Does The Research Say
Not an awful lot. Much of the research is poor quality and little of it includes the Bristol Stool Chart, measures of pain or quality of life.
This Cochrane Review on interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy compared bulk forming with stimulant laxatives in pregnant women. DataData is the information collected through research. was poor but they concluded there was evidence that increasing fibre formed a better stool. The review states there is a need for further randomizedRandomization is the process of randomly dividing into groups the people taking part in a trial. One group will be given the intervention being tested and compared with a group which does not receive the intervention . controlled trialsA trial in which a group is given a intervention being tested is compared with a group which does not receive the intervention . in different settings with a range of types of laxative and measurements of pain as well as stools.
Another Cochrane review by the same team, looked at interventions for treating post-partum constipation . They excluded nine studies on the basis that they did not meet the inclusion criteria and found none that they could include. They recommended rigorous and well conducted large RCTs.
Until that happens, we will all just have to continue trial and error. With our knees above our hips.
Recommended Reading: Lettuce Gives Me Diarrhea
How Is Obstructed Defecation Syndrome Treated
Because its causes tend to be complex, with many factors involved, treatment is often conservative and holistic. Its rarely as simple as corrective surgery. Even when surgery is recommended, and even when its successful in correcting an anatomical problem, it doesn’t always lead to lasting relief. Symptoms may persist or come back. There are often still other factors to address, perhaps undiscovered yet.
For all people, healthcare providers begin by recommending:
- More dietary fiber, with a goal of 30 to 40 grams per day.
- More water intake, with a goal of more than 2 liters per day.
- Stool softeners or laxatives, home enemas and colonic irrigation.
- Yoga and guided relaxation techniques.
For neurological and psychosomatic symptoms, which affect up to two-thirds of people, they recommend:
- Biofeedback therapy, especially for anismus and pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Psychotherapy, when needed.
For anatomical problems such as organ prolapse, healthcare providers may recommend surgery when other treatments fail. Possible procedures include:
- Posterior colporrhaphy for rectocele, to push your fallen rectum back into place.
- Stapled transanal rectal resection for rectocele and intussusception, to reinforce the anterior anorectal junction wall.
- Rectopexy for rectal prolapse, restoring your rectum to its normal position, often with mesh to support it. Sometimes, this also involves the removal of part of your colon.
Symptoms Of Faecal Impaction
The symptoms of impaction are similar to the symptoms of constipation. But other more serious symptoms can occur. These include:
- back pain due to the mass of poo pressing on the nerves in your lower back
- a swollen tummy
- high or low blood pressure
- a fast heart rate
- explosive diarrhoea or diarrhoea that you have no control over
- feeling and being sick
Don’t Miss: Almond Milk Makes Me Bloated
What Are The Signs Of Constipation
If youre here, there may very well be no doubt in your mind that you are constipated. But hey, who knows? Perhaps you just suspect youd benefit from a good B.M. So, first things first, lets take a look at some tell-tail, er, telltale signs of constipation. Per the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Hard or lumpy stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as though you cant completely empty your bowels
- Having fewer than three bowel movements per week
Heres How To Ease The Strain
We want to help you, help your butt! Relaxing your butt on the toilet is like a breath of fresh air, but it can be easier said than done, especially when youre constipated. However, if you want to avoid unpleasant rectal problems as a result of pushing too hard to poop, try out these tips on easing the strain.
Recommended Reading: Pantoprazole Ibs
What Happens If You Strain Too Hard While Pooping
Not only is straining to poop super uncomfortable on its own, but it can cause a number of health issues that can make you feel worse. Here are some common problems that may arise if youre frequently having a hard time going:
Straining to poop is one of the prime causes of hemorrhoids, which are piles of bulging veins that can be internal or external , according to the Mayo Clinic. When you strain to poop, the veins in your butt can swell and bulge, kind of like how a bodybuilders veins bulge when theyre lifting weights, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman says. Bodybuilders push up the weights and you see the veins popping out in their necks or templesthat is exactly what can happen in our anus, resulting in hemorrhoids, she says. If those hemorrhoidal veins get really big and you start to pass hard bowel movements, your poop can nick a blood vessel, resulting in some bleeding, according to Dr. Schnoll-Sussman. Pregnancy is another common hemorrhoid cause, partially because being pregnant can cause constipation, and partially because your growing uterus can lead to more pressure in your lower body, including your anus. Voilà, hemorrhoids.
So how do you know if you have hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids can be asymptomatic, meaning you might not know. Other times, hemorrhoids can cause symptoms like itching, discomfort, anal swelling, and bleeding, which can make it hard to poop, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How Does This Condition Affect My Body
ODS is a broad umbrella term describing a range of conditions that involve constipation and difficulty defecating. What they have in common are the symptoms of constipation.
Diagnosis of constipation requires two or more of the following symptoms, consistently for 90 days:
- Straining on more than 25% of bowel movements.
- The feeling that you didnt completely empty your bowels on more than 25% of bowel movements.
- Hard stools on more than 25% of bowel movements.
- Needing to use your fingers to help pass stools more than 25% of the time.
- Fewer than three bowel movements a week.
These symptoms may only be the tip of the iceberg, however. They often result from underlying conditions that have yet to be discovered.
Having chronic constipation for a long time can also cause its own set of problems. Sometimes, its hard to tell what the original cause was and what the effect was.
People with obstructed defecation might also have:
- Pelvic floor dysfunction. The muscles and nerves in your pelvic floor cant coordinate correctly to make a bowel movement.
- Organ prolapse. One of the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus or bowel, has fallen out of place and is bulging into another organ or falling out of the body.
- Rectal hyposensation. A loss of the ability to sense stool in the rectum or the need to have a bowel movement.
- Pooping anxiety. They might have a conscious or unconscious habit of guarding against hard, painful stools by stopping bowel movements.
Don’t Miss: Probiotics For Crohn’s Disease
What Can I Do To Help Myself
You can follow these steps when youre constipated and even when youre not!
- Drink plenty of water. This can keep your poop from getting too hard and dry.
- Eat more fiber. Fruit, vegetables, and whole grains add fiber to your diet. And fiber can keep things moving.
- Ask your parents to use olive oil and other healthy oils in their cooking. This can help make you pass poop more easily.
- Exercise. Throw a ball with your friends, ride your bike, or shoot a few hoops. Activity helps you go to the bathroom regularly. In other words, if you get moving, your bowels will too!
Try To Incorporate Omega
Flax seeds, walnuts and cold-water fishes such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are an excellent source of Omega-3. There is not only a great way to keep your cardiovascular system healthy but can also work its charm in helping you eliminate stool. This type of fish oil acts as a lubricant for poop, thus aiding a smoother and more gently pooping.
Read Also: Probiotic Align Ingredients
The Battle Of The Bulge
How do you know if a bulge is the cause of your constipation?
If your stool is soft and formed, but still difficult to pass and you feel the bulge in the vagina when you try to poop, you may have a rectocele complicating your stool passage, says Fairchild, who is also co-director of the Michigan Bowel Control Program.
She often recommends splinting as a test to determine if a womans rectocele is contributing to their constipation. It can help to determine if repair of a rectocele will help improve bowel function. This is because many women have small rectoceles that they dont notice and that do not play a role in bowel function or dysfunction.
If splinting the rectocele doesnt help passage of stool, then treatment aimed at repair of the rectocele is not likely to help passage of stool either.
Splinting is safe to practice, unless you have broken skin or an irritation that make it painful to push on the vagina or perineal area, Fairchild says.
Even women with normal pelvic support still may get a bulge occasionally with constipation. The vagina is quite pliable to accommodate childbirth, Fairchild reminds.
Its the path of least resistance, so if your rectum is full of stool, you will likely be able to feel that it is full by touching the wall between the vagina and rectum.
Prevention Of Fecal Impaction
After a fecal impaction has been treated and the rectum has been cleared of stool, its important to carefully follow a bowel retraining program to prevent another episode.
Youll probably be instructed to:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat sufficient amounts of fiber. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , adults should get 25 to 31 grams of fiber a day. The exact amount depends on your sex and age.
- Use the bathroom regularly when you feel the urge to defecate, dont delay.
- Get regular exercise.
- Try bowel training, which involves conditioning yourself to pass stool at around the same time each day to avoid developing severe constipation again.
- Try Kegel exercises, which may help strengthen pelvic and rectal muscles.
Occasionally using over-the-counter stool softeners or fiber supplements can help as well. But be aware that using laxatives too often can compound the problem, making it more difficult to pass stool.
Recommended Reading: Lettuce Gives Me Gas
Try Squatting Over The Toilet When You Think You Might Be Ready To Go
The squatting position can be mimicked by putting a stool under your feet to raise your knees up, says Peyton Berookim, MD, director of the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Squatting modifies the anatomy by relaxing the muscles in that area while also elevating the part of your colon that makes for easier emptying of the bowel. The closer you are to a full squat, the easier it will be to poop, he says.
What Foods Will Ease My Constipation
No matter what sort of questionable advice your friends may give you in your time of need, hitting the Taco Bell drive-thru isnt guaranteed to get your bowels going. A more reliable suggestion? Fiber-filled foods like raspberries, which boast eight grams of fiber per cup, and my old pregnancy favorite, prunes. In fact, one study found that eating roughly 10 prunes a day improves stool frequency. So, if you want to be the A plus pooper we all know you can, add prunes into your diet on a daily basis.
Another helpful fact? Magnesium deficiency is often behind constipation. You can remedy this by popping a handful of pumpkin seed kernels , almonds , spinach , or cashews . You can also take a daily magnesium supplement if all of that doesnt sound super appealing, and youd rather just pop a vitamin and go.
Aside from the yummy prune, these are some other foods that help with constipation: pears, apples, kiwi, spinach and other leafy greens, artichoke, beans and lentils, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and whole grains, among others.
Among the superfoods that will relieve your constipation is psyllium husk a soluble fiber that passes through your small intestine without being broken down or absorbed, making it act like a gentle laxative to relieve constipation. You can find psyllium in over-the-counter supplements like Metamucil or in its raw form at stores like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and many large supermarkets.
Recommended Reading: Fish Oil Helps Constipation
Make Sure Youre Properly Hydrated
One of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration, Dr. Berookim says. When the body is poorly hydrated, it will compensate by withdrawing water from the large intestine resulting in hard stools.
A good rule of thumb is to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of your body weight, he says.
What Drinks Will Make You Poop Right Away
Youre probably hoping that there is one magic elixir to make all of your problems go away. And, sure, were about to rattle off a few possibilities but youll have to experiment to see what combination works best for you. In general, though, youre going to want to quite literally hydrate the shit out of yourself.
Heres a fun visual to fuel your night terrors for the foreseeable future. Have you ever tried to slide down a waterslide when you and/or the slide were dry? Its a non-starter. Now, imagine your poo is you and the slide is your body. The more water you drink, the easier your stool will slide down and out. If youre pregnant and cant even keep water down, try the following tricks that have worked for some pregnant women:
Also Check: Align Probiotic Reviews For Bloating
Being Constipated Is Downright Uncomfortable Heres How To Get Relief
Some people think if they dont have a bowel movement every day, theyre constipated, but this isnt the case. Officially, being constipated means having two or fewer bowel movements a week.
You may also be constipated if you experience straining, hard stools, a feeling of being blocked up or a feeling that you dont completely empty your bowels.
If youre constipated, you may also feel cramping, bloating, nausea or pain in the rectum from straining, says Dr. Amitpal Johal, division chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Geisinger Medical Center.
If any of these feelings last for several weeks or longer, youre likely looking for a constipation remedy. Heres what you can do at home to unblock yourself and feel relief.
Dont Miss: Is Carrot Good For Constipation
Constipation Cure: Visualize The Dump Of Your Dreams
It sounds crazy, but theres actually some benefit to imagining yourself successfully completing a blissful poop.
In fact, Dr. Rao often uses visualization techniques with his patients. Thats because your mind/body connection can be used to loosen your pelvic floor, which is often too tight in people who have problems with constipation.
Sling-shaped pelvic floor muscles hold your pelvic organslike your bowel and bladderin place.
Imagine that area of your body as a dam holding back water, he says. If you gently open a lock in that dam, youll get the flow you want.
Consider setting aside the same time each day for this exerciseideally, in the morning when youve already had some coffeeso that you can establish a regular pooping habit.
Sit on the toilet, breathe deeply, and recall the feeling of relief that comes with an epic poop. That physical sensation of relief is related to your pelvic floor relaxing. With each exhale, imagine that muscular sling releasing.
Remember not to sit for too longtry just a few minutes at firstbut its possible that youll retrain your body with just a few sessions.
With enough visualization, you can recalibrate the muscles to open when you choose, Dr. Rao says: You have more power over the situation than you think.
Recommended Reading: High Lactoferrin In Stool