Why Constipation is Not Cool.

Wednesday, February 6

Elvis Presley apparently struggled terribly with constipation, and as a result of this often soiled himself while on stage and frequently required costume changes.  His Doctor, in this article here, actually believes that constipation may have caused his death.

It is considered normal to open your bowels between three times a day and three times a week.  

Now the topic of toileting is not most the polite in conversation.

However, by the number of you that have read my previous posts on why some people leave skid marks, and the perfect poo, it clearly is of interest.

 And it really should be something that we all know more about.  I've learned a lot this evening re-reading the Constipation chapters in my text books...

Getting back to Elvis, how do you soil yourself if constipated you may ask? Over a long period of time, hard poo sitting in the bowel, irritates the bowel walls, causing them to produce more fluid and mucus that can bypass the hard poo and leak out.

Sounds lovely, I know.  But constipation really is serious business.

A friend of mine, says that at a hospital that he worked at, a man was so constipated, that when he finally did manage to go the toilet, he did such a big poo, that his body's potassium levels dropped so severely that he had a heart attack and died.  On the toilet.  Now I'm not sure that this was listed as his cause of death on his death certificate, but it does make you think.

I did also once have a little old lady explain to me in great detail about how a butter knife is the only thing that helps her soften her stools enough to go, and my initial confusion was soon replaced with a call to the Doctor, when I realised where exactly she was using the butter knife.

So aside, from potential soiling yourself, or in the very extreme cases - death or the use of a butter knife, why else should you be concerned about constipation.

Constipation can lead to:^
Abdominal Cramping and pain
Perineal Pain

And more seriously:
Needing to use your own finger pressure on the perineum or post vaginal wall to empty the bowels.
Rectal proplapse.
Incomplete emptying of your bowel.
Contribute to urinary frequency and urge incontinence.

Many people also report:
Skin Problems
General fatigue

Long term constipation and straining also weakens the pelvic floor muscles and can lead to urinary and faecal incontinence (wetting and soiling yourself).*

So how common is it?^

Severe constipation occurs in up to 20% of the population, is more common in Women and worsens with age.  Pregnancy also contributes to constipation.

What causes Constipation?^

Not drinking enough fluids and not eating enough fibre.  Always aim to drink a litre of water a day, and ensure you are having 5-7 fruit and vegetables a day.  Extra fibre supplements can also be sought.  I find that ground flax seed works a treat.

Lack of Exercise, marathon runners often struggle with diarrhoea, go figure.  More and more people spending long hours sitting for work, hasn't helped either.

It has been found that those who have struggled with eating disorders and suffered abuse in the past can struggle with constipation.  If you have struggled with either of these in the past, then Medical advice is best sought.

Ignoring the Urge, because you are at work, out the house or on holiday and you don't feel comfortable using the only available toilet....this continually ignoring your body's natural urge, also leads to constipation.

Or maybe you have decided you will go, but you are going to hover over the toilet...not ideal. In the hovering position, to pass urine or faeces, you are tensing your pelvic floor muscles and then you have to push harder and put more strain on your pelvic floor muscles...weakening them further.

So what is the perfect position then?

Mother nature made us to squat outside on the ground to poo.  Not sit on a toilet seat with our hips and knees at 90'.

Pic from Macmillian.org.uk

Place a small bench or phone directory under your feet, so that your knees are a little higher than your hips.

Pushing up on your toes to make your knees higher is NOT an option, toe curling activates your pelvic floor. Which is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to do here.

Now lean forwards.

Rest your elbows on your knees.

Relax your tummy muscles completely.

And breathe out....


You will be surprised at how much it helps:)

If you are constipated, and concerned about it, go to a Doctor.

This really is serious shit stuff.


^Information from Physiotherapy in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Second Edition, Mantle, Haslam and Barton.

* From www.bladderandboweldysfunction.org

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