During my assessment I ask questions about toilet habits because how we go impacts our pelvic floor. I wanted to highlight some of the common things I hear and explain why these habits are not good for your pelvic floor. Along with this written blog is a video that teaches you how to use the toilet better.
1. 1. Toilet Hovering
When you are hovering over the toilet, it is very difficult to relax the pelvic floor and allow your bladder and bowel to empty properly. You may even be motivated to “push,” to speed up the process because of the strain on the legs to maintain the position. Pushing against muscles that are not fully relaxed can lead to micro-trauma (or stretching) of the muscles and over time can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, urinary incontinence or in rare cases dysynergia ( fancy word which means, you contract muscles instead of relax when you are trying to pee or have a bowel movement).
The other risk of not emptying your bladder properly is urinary tract infections. When urine stays in the bladder for prolonged periods, it can develop bacteria leading to infection. An untreated urinary tract infection could lead to a kidney infection.
Some tips for public toilets: carry a small package of anti-bacterial wipes and even a few thin gloves in your bag. You can use a toilet seat cover if provided or use toilet paper creating a V shape over the toilet seat. I would love hear about any other strategies you use.
2. 2. Pushing or Straining on the Toilet
This is extremely common, especially for bowel movements. I will just mention quickly that pushing to pee is equally troublesome because it puts pressure on the pelvic floor and can increase the risk of urethral or bladder prolapse in women. But I am going to focus in on straining with bowel movements and constipation. Chronic straining and constipation is a major contributor to pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pushing to have a bowel movement weakens the pelvic floor can cause trauma to the pelvic region over time. Some consequences include; urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, inability to hold gas, hemorrhoids, pain and pelvic organ prolapse. Prolapse means either the bladder or rectum pushes into the vagina or the uterus begins to drop into the vaginal canal.
People can become constipated for many different reasons; diet, lifestyle, lack of exercise, digestive issues, not drinking enough water, medications or behavioural reasons, such as ignoring the “call to stool”.
The “call to stool” means when you get urge or sensation to have a bowel movement but you ignore it and hold it in. Now you may be somewhere where you cannot go at the moment and that is okay. It is the continued ignoring over years that is a problem. Why? 2 reasons.
· Firstly, your body will eventually stops telling you, when you need to go
· Secondly, your rectum can stretch out, which means it takes more stool to gather before you get the urge to go. This can lead to mega-colon. The name is self-explanatory.
3. 3. Sitting on the Toilet for prolonged periods
If you get the urge or sensation to have a bowel movement and sit down but nothing is happening, you want to try some exercises to help get you started (see the video). If the stool is still not moving after a few minutes, you need to get up and go move around until you get the urge again. Sitting for a prolonged period of time keeps the pelvic floor relaxed allowing blood to pool in the veins. This can lead to hemorrhoids which are painful and can bleed.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel to comment. If you find the information helpful, make sure to like our Facebook Page “The Pelvic Health Lady” so that you stay up to date with newest posts.
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