Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Is your constipation making you miserable?
You are not alone.
Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the country, impacting everyone at some point in their life, and nearly 20 percent of the population.
The problem with constipation is that it seems like a simple disorder that can easily be fixed with over the counter stool softeners and laxatives, but that often leads to worsening health conditions.
Don’t brush your constipation under the rug. Get to the root cause through a proper diagnosis and find lasting relief and improved overall health. Identifying what causes constipation is the key to treating your underlying condition and ridding yourself of painful constipation for life.
In this six-part series, we are looking at the causes of constipation to help you find the root cause of your discomfort and achieve lasting constipation relief. The first four parts, we looked at low hydrochloric acid, low bile flow, dysbiosis, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.
In part five of this series, we will examine pelvic floor dysfunction and how it can cause painful constipation. We examine the importance of the pelvic floor, symptoms of dysfunction, what causes pelvic floor dysfunction, and constipation remedies when it’s caused by pelvic floor dysfunction.
The Importance of Your Pelvic Floor & Symptoms of Dysfunction
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support your organs in the pelvic area, they work like a sling. Your pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the uterus in women, prostate in men, bladder, and rectum. It’s through contraction and relaxation of these muscles that allow you to control your bladder and bowel movements.
How you get rid of constipation is completely dependent on the cause and pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the trickier causes to treat. When your pelvic floor muscles remain contracted it can be extremely uncomfortable and confusing when common remedies don’t help. Some of the other symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- Painful urination
- Straining pains accompanying bowel movements
- Feeling as though you need several bowel movements in a short period of time
- Frequent urination
- Urination that stops and starts
- Feeling like you can’t complete your bowel movements
- Lower back pain
- Consistent pain in your pelvis, genitals or rectum
- For women, pain during intercourse
If you are experiencing any of these other symptoms, it’s likely your constipation is caused by pelvic floor dysfunction. Because treating this form of constipation isn’t as straightforward as the other causes, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to be certain of your root cause.
Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the leading causes of constipation, impacting about 7 percent of the adult population. Unlike the other causes of constipation, this type is caused by the bowels physically being blocked.
The muscles of the pelvic floor are contracted instead of relaxed, which leads to incomplete or prevented bowel movements. This can be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and even lead to worse health conditions.
Another problem with constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is that often home remedies such as added fiber and stool softeners don’t work well. What helps constipation caused pelvic floor dysfunction best are exercises and biofeedback therapy.
When you’re experiencing constipation from pelvic floor dysfunction, it isn’t as though you feel the contracted muscles in your pelvic region. In fact, you can’t be 100 percent certain this is the cause without a full examination by your functional medicine doctor.
An examination includes both a full physical examination and taking a careful medical history. The physical examination is to check for muscle spasms, weakness, knots and your ability to control your pelvic muscles. Some of the questions you may be asked during your medical history include:
- If you’ve had recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- If you have given birth
- If you experience pain during intercourse
- If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- If you have interstitial cystitis
- If you’ve experienced any other symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction
Unlike the other causes of constipation explored in this series, pelvic floor dysfunction is not relieved with quick fixes. This could be considered a good thing, because it requires those suffering to find long term solutions.
Causes of Pelvic Floor Function
The causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are largely unknown and can occur in both men and women. Though traumatic injuries and complications of childbirth can contribute to issues with proper pelvic floor function.
Natural Remedies for Constipation Caused by Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Due to the nature of the condition, most of the treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction happen to be natural remedies. Techniques include working closely with your doctor to retain your pelvic floor muscles and improving relaxation. Retraining your pelvic floor muscles proven to be effective, showing improvement in 70 percent of patients.
After a proper diagnosis with your doctor, some of the treatment options you’ll likely explore include:
- Biofeedback – Done with a doctor, this technique uses monitoring to help you improve control over your pelvic floor muscles
- Pelvic floor exercises – These are taught to you by your doctor and can be done at home
- Relaxation techniques – Yoga, warm baths, and other relaxing methods can help reduce pelvic floor dysfunction
- Myofascial release – A very effective technique where sustained pressure is applied to the myofascial connective tissues, which results in restored function and reduced pain.
- Craniosacral therapy – This form of bodywork focuses on your cranium and synarthrodial joints (fibrous joints with little range of motion). This treatment improves the flow of your cerebrospinal fluid, which reduces pain and improves pelvic floor function.
- Acupuncture – A form of ancient Chinese medicine known for its ability to alleviate pain through the application of acupuncture needles at appropriate meridian points.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a treatable condition. Biofeedback and physical therapy are the two most common treatment options. In some severe cases, muscle relaxants or surgery might be recommended but this isn’t common.
When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation
Treating constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is going to require guidance by your functional medicine doctor. When you experience constipation that lasts more than 10 days or is reoccurring, do yourself a favor and make an appointment. A thorough examination eliminates other causes and narrows in on exactly what type of treatment remedy your root cause.
Constipation should never be taken lightly because it leads to a cascade of health consequences. Work with your functional medicine doctor to diagnose and treat your pelvic floor dysfunction so you can live your life free of constipation discomforts.
Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325). If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.