Bowel Health and Your Pelvic Floor

Person holding their hand on the stomach

The pelvic floor is a notable and often-ignored contributor to the optimal function of your bowels. If your pelvic floor muscles are imbalanced, or if they are not effectively working with the rest of your inner core, this may lead to some unwelcome experiences. Some of these experiences can be constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, incomplete emptying, and incontinence. Painful experiences such as abdominal cramping and proctalgia fugax (pain due to spasm of the rectal muscles) may directly or indirectly relate to what is going on with your pelvic floor muscles. 

Did you know:

  • Your pelvic floor muscles and your bowels are intimately related to your nervous system. Being in fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn mode may cause these muscles to become tense, resulting in pain and other unwelcomed symptoms
  • Your pelvic floor muscles work together through intricate reflex patterns. For these reflexes to function optimally, your pelvic floor muscles need to be working well, and they need to be synced with your nervous system
  • We may inadvertently perpetuate this situation. Some of the habits that we adopt in our daily lives may affect the ability of our pelvic floor muscles and our nervous system to work together. Do you delay emptying your bowels because you are in public? This may be interrupting optimal reflexes, leading to chronic constipation and uncoordinated muscle action.
  • Ideally, you would NOT push to empty your bowels.

Your pelvic health physiotherapist can help to relieve bowel symptoms.

Here’s how:

Understand what is happening at your pelvic floor. Is your pelvic floor weak? Tense? Or a combination of these?

Understand how your nervous system may be caught in a fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn mode. Learn simple techniques that may help you to establish a positive relationship with your nervous system, helping it to become calmer.

Integrate your pelvic floor muscles and your nervous system to help re-establish helpful reflexes and muscle activity.

Create the optimal environment for emptying your bowels through positioning, breathing, and “bowel Olympics”.

Help facilitate the transit of faecal material through your bowels with simple massage and breathing techniques.

Help to prevent/ minimize pelvic organ prolapse and other secondary issues. We dothis by creating a strong pelvic floor that can relax when you are emptying your bowels.

Decrease your pain by understanding the causes of your pain and by implementing strategies to help soothe these causes.

Are you interested in learning more? Contact Michelle at fraser@fraserpelvichealth.com

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