Did you know that your pelvic floor is directly linked to your gut health? Let’s talk about that important connection today.
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The connection between the gut and pelvic floor
Our gut is the opening from the mouth to the anus. Whether you are experiencing chronic constipation, diarrhea, or even a specific condition, like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut, SIFO (small intestinal fungal overgrowth), or large intestinal fungal overgrowth—all of these conditions are going to have a direct influence on your pelvic floor function. Conversely, any type of pelvic floor dysfunction will influence your gut health.
For example, if you have a tight pelvic floor, otherwise known as a hypertonic pelvic floor, it will likely contribute to chronic constipation. There are three key connections:
The first connection includes the pelvic floor sphincters, an internal sphincter and external sphincter.
Think of the internal sphincter as our communication system, which signals to the brain that it is time to have a bowel movement. When we have chronic constipation, for instance, it affects the sphincter and thus disrupts this communication system. Therefore, we ultimately have to retrain our bowel habits to improve this communication.
We also have an external sphincter, which can be stimulated by mere wiping. If we are having excessive wiping when having a bowel movement, it will stimulate that sphincter to drop stool down through the rectum. The more that we do this, the more we are creating miscommunication and ultimately having to wipe more. This can commonly be associated with someone who has looser stools, potentially has dysbiosis or leaky gut, and is chronically wiping when they’re going to the bathroom to ensure they’re clean.
The next connection is essentially pushing, or we can also call this poor pressure management.
We want to think about pressure management for everything related to bowel movement and the pelvic floor. If you’ve ever gone to the bathroom, whether it was looser stools or firmer stools, and you are pushing or bearing down to release, you know exactly what I am referring to. Unfortunately, this involves poor pressure management in our core and definitely within our pelvic floor. This can cause pelvic floor dysfunction.
It is important to manage pressure properly, and the exercise you can do is called “Belly big, belly hard.” When you feel like you’re about to have a bowel movement and you have the desire to push, try making a closed fist, breath in, and then blow into your fist with your cheeks puffing out for three seconds. Now, pull your fist away and keep breathing. You should feel like you’re able to excrete in a very natural and relaxed manner. We need the pelvic floor to relax to have a bowel movement.
Finally, the last pelvic floor-gut connection is your bowel mechanics. This will go hand in hand with pressure management, so the Squatty Potty, for example, is a great way to improve your squat mechanics. You can also just elevate your feet, which will allow the stool to move easily into the rectum to be ultimately evacuated.
It’s important to optimize squat mechanics and biomechanics, to optimize pressure management, and to think about the role of your sphincter’s communication with your brain to positively influence your bowel habits and pelvic floor function.
This is just scratching the surface of all of the different connections between these two, but hopefully, it gives you an appreciation that if you have any kind of bowel issue, you absolutely need to address your pelvic floor and vice versa.
They go hand in hand, so if you really want to take the time to work with a professional, please make sure you reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to help you in your journey virtually or in person and really begin to uncover what issues may be affecting you on either side of things.
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