June is Pelvic Organ Prolapse awareness month and last week we looked at what Pelvic Organ Prolapse is, what symptoms you may experience if you have one and what to do about it. Remember - if this information does not apply to you, it may apply to your mum, your aunt, your sister or your friend - so spread the word, so many women live in a state of embarrassment or fear of what is happening to their bodies, not knowing what to do or who to talk to - this just isn't right.
For many women irregular bowel habits and constipation are a very real issue. A constipated bowel can cause or worsen pelvic floor dysfunction due to the pressure generated through the pelvic floor when trying to have a bowel movement. Let's face it, going to the toilet is not something we can just decide not to do ... eliminating waste is key to our health and well being, so what can you do to make sure that an every day habit does not have an adverse effect on your body.
Are you constipated?
Ideally you should be emptying your bowels daily but at the very least you should be going at least 3 times a week and not more than 3 x a day.
An ideal stool according to the Bristol Stool Chart is soft, sausage shaped and brown.
If you feel you are constipated here are a few tips you can try to see if they ease the problem, and help you to protect your pelvic floor from long-term damage in the future. If the problem persists or you notice anything unusual with your bowel you must seek medical advice.
FIVE TIPS FOR BETTER BOWEL HEALTH
DRINK MORE WATER
Sometimes the simple remedies are the most effective. Many women, for fear of leaking, simply reduce their intake of all fluids. While this might mean that you feel more confident when you are out and about, chronic dehydration is bad news for virtually every cell in your body and has the potential to reduce a range of bodily activities from brain function to fat loss.
I find it easier to drink more when I monitor my water intake and carry a water bottle with me all of the time. If you know you are not drinking enough, have a think about what might work to help you improve your fluid intake.
HOW AND WHAT ARE YOU EATING
Is the food you are eating delicious AND good for you?
Do you eat on the run?
Are you feeling guilty about what you eat?
Are you mindful about what and how you are eating?
Give some thought to not only your diet but your eating habits – try and make sure that you have time to chew and digest your food properly at each meal, this could make a huge difference to your digestion.
A DIET RICH IN FIBER
Increasing the fiber content of your diet can really help to improve the function of the digestive system. But ease into it slowly:
When we sit on the loo in an upright sitting position – part of the pelvic floor is only able to partially relax, keeping the colon kinked and blocking the flow of waste. In a more squat position the muscles can fully relax allowing the colon to empty quickly and completely. So an ideal toileting position has the knees higher than the hips– which can be achieved by placing a small stool or a couple of blocks under each foot.
Here is a rather humorous look at the "Squatty Potty" and the and-rectal angle!
I LOVE YOU MASSAGE
This is a lovely way to start the day and connect with your body – and I have found it really does help to eliminate any excess gas and move any waste that might be lingering a little longer than you wanted.