Yes, it’s true and we all know it. Unfortunately, sometimes the process of eliminating stool (“pooping”) doesn’t go well. Individuals may experience fecal incontinence and/or difficulty emptying, which can result in embarrassment, social isolation and further medical complications. Here are some basic facts that everyone should know:
What is Normal When it Comes to Pooping?
Most individuals should expect to eliminate a soft, formed stool every day or every other day. You should not need to strain to eliminate stool. Elimination should happen when you sit on the toilet and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor, allowing natural gut movement to expel the stool with minimal to no additional abdominal pressure.
What Problems Might People Have?
- Diarrhea: It is very difficult to hold back a liquid stool. If your stools are regularly watery it may be appropriate to consult with a nutritionist to discuss dietary changes, or a gastrointestinal specialist to see whether medical management is appropriate for you.
- Constipation: It is also very difficult to expel a hard, dry stool. Constipation can happen as a response to medications, activity level, or dietary intake. Again, a consultation with a nutrition or gastrointestinal specialist is appropriate to ensure you are providing your body what it needs to allow proper elimination of waste.
- Incomplete emptying: When the bowels do not empty completely, an individual may feel they can’t get entirely clean afterward, or even experience smearing of feces on underclothing. This can happen as a result of dyssynergic muscle activity. A pelvic health physical therapist can help individuals manage abdominal pressure and muscle engagement so that the mechanical process of stool elimination is functioning properly.
The CHI Health Pelvic Health Center has a number of specialists who are able to help individuals with these and many other conditions associated with the process of eliminating stool. Although it’s something that many people would rather not discuss, it is one of the most important daily bodily functions, and an indication of overall well-being. If you are experiencing any bothersome condition related to the pelvic region, please don’t hesitate to contact our navigator at (402) 717-7358 and see how we can help.
Kelly Fairfield, PT is a Pelvic Health Navigator with CHI Health.