** It is important to find the reason you are having pain or bleeding during a bowel movement as some diagnoses can be serious medical concerns and need to be investigated by a medical professional. This blog post is in no way meant to substitute an assessment from a trained health care provider. It is to be used as an educational tool for the general public. **
Lets face it.. everyone poops! Yes everyone. Some people are like clockwork... they get up, have their coffee and they’re done their business by 8:00 am. But what about those of us who struggle to regulate our bowels and even have pain when we poop? I’ve put together some advice I share with my patients on a regular basis to help combat constipation which can sometimes lead to anal fissures and hemorrhoids.
As stated above, if you do have any pain or bleeding with a bowel movement please seek out a trained health care provider as sometimes these symptoms can be side effects of more serious conditions.
1. Posture: When sitting on the toilet posture is KEY. I usually start with this tip as sometimes it can result in that “quick fix” we all look for. So how do we obtain this ideal pooping posture? I start with using a small step stool under your feet so that your knees are slightly higher than your hips. Most parents will already have a stool in their bathroom for their little ones to reach the sink. A product on the market that I love is the “Squatty Potty”. This products footrest design is at the correct height to set you up right! Link: https://www.squattypotty.com.
Next look at your upper body. Are you hunched forward like a goblin? You want to make sure you are hinging forward at your hips and your back is flat. In this position your rectal angle is more open and allows stool to pass through your anal opening with ease!
2. Water Intake: No, you don’t need to follow the newest Instagram challenge of drinking a surplus of water, but for the average person we are often not drinking enough water throughout the day. I don’t give any concrete rules of “8x8 oz a day” as everyone’s requirements are different depending on a variety of factors. A good general rule to follow is: “Is your urine very pale yellow in colour?” And “Are you going to the bathroom 6-8x/day”. One way to help with this is to think about sipping your water gradually throughout the day instead of chugging glasses sporadically.
3. Go on the first urge: It is so important to listen to your body. Our lives are busy and a lot of us don’t want to use public washrooms but when you get that initial urge to have a bowel movement, listen to it. If not, the stool collects and becomes more dry as the body reabsorbs the water found in the stool. You may notice when you eventually go you are more constipated and need to push more than if you listened the first time around.
4. Skin integrity: I could do an entire blog post on this. But in short, sometimes the skin around the anus can become dry or irritated. To prevent this, one thing to look at is the soap or body wash you are using. If you find you are prone to irritation it is best to pick a soap that is non-scented and dye free. Avoid baths ESPECIALLY with bath bombs. If you do bathe, I recommend rinsing the area with water after. You want to make sure the area is free of suds after your shower or bathe. Use a gentle cloth in the area instead of a rough loofa. Make sure when you come out of the shower you pat dry the area well. Some people also find it helpful to use a small amount of moisturizer around the anus (not internally). I recommended Aquaphor to my patients. You can find this at any drug store. It is commonly used for dry/cracked lips and hands but is perfectly fine to use down there. You don’t need to use this all the time but apply a small amount at night to help with dryness and irritation.
5. Chew your food: This seems totally unrelated to having a bowel movement but in our hectic lives we tend to inhale our meals instead of properly chewing the food we eat. Digestion actually starts in the mouth and the more we can do at this stage the easier it is for our body to digest our food down the line. Did you know it takes about 40 chews to properly break down ONE almond? Next time you eat see where you land in this realm and pay attention to how much you chew.
6. Ice Ice baby: If you struggle with hemorrhoids that tend to remain swollen and sore after a bowel movement, I recommend using ice and compression in the saddle region to help settle this down. Make sure you have a towel or pants between you and the ice pack. Ice for about 10 minutes at a time and let the skin resume to room temperature before applying ice again.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new about the way you poop! Afterall, everyone does it!