Let’s look on the bright side: Of all the digestive issues out there, constipation isn’t necessarily the worst thing your stomach could do to you. But that still doesn’t make it pleasurable, and you deserve real relief.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can speed things up, if, say you’re heading out for a morning run or have a long car ride ahead of you. The best part: Most are totally natural things you likely do every day anyway—and they’re doctor-recommended methods for how to make yourself poop.
Try one of these 10 tricks the next time you’re feeling more backed up than usual, and are hunting for answers for how to relieve constipation fast.
1. Load up on foods with fibre.
Fibre-rich foods with a high water content, such as raw carrots, apples with the skin or peel on, and avocados, are all great sources of fibre to help get things moving, says Dr Christine Lee, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
“When consumed, these foods create an osmotic gradient,” says Dr Lee—that means they force more water to be pulled into the colon during digestion, which then helps ease and prevent constipation by helping things flow a little more smoothly.
2. Or, take a fibre supplement.
You can get the same effects from a psyllium husk fibre supplement, says Dr Lee. Look for a daily supplemental dose of 6 to 9 grams of fibre, which are available over the counter.
Just remember: Eating a nutritious diet (which should naturally include some natural fibre found in food) is key, even if you decide to take a fibre supplement. You can’t just add a spoonful of a supplement to your bottle of cola and expect your digestive system to work properly.
3. Drink some coffee — preferably *hot.*
This is often the first idea that comes to mind if faced with the dilemma of how to make yourself poop. Warm beverages in general, particularly a hot cup of coffee or tea, in the morning, can help to get things moving, says Dr Lee.
But coffee, in particular, is a must for anyone looking for how to poop immediately in the morning (especially runners, Dr Lee notes, as it’s much more convenient to empty your stomach before you hit the pavement). The heat from the coffee can stimulate movement, but the coffee itself and its high levels of caffeine are also “known to stimulate colon motility,” says Dr Lee.
Coffee can work warm or cold. But other cold caffeinated beverages like iced tea or caffeinated sodas won’t have the same effect.
4. Get a little exercise in.
Ever been in the middle of a run when you needed a bathroom—STAT? You’re not alone. That’s because “hiking, walking on uneven grounds, jogging, and biking can all increase your metabolism, which in turn increases intestinal motility,” says Dr Lee.
Also important: If you’ve been busier than usual and have gotten into an exercise dry spell (and you’re noticing some bathroom issues) it might be a clue as to why you’re not pooping as much as you’d like. Making sure to incorporate even short regular workouts into your routine could be the secret solution you need, she says.
5. Try massaging your perineum — no, really.
A technique in which you massage your perineum (the stretch of skin that separates the vagina from your anus), by pushing repeatedly on the skin with your index and pointer finger, can help to ease constipation because of the pressure points contained in that area, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. (Similarly, massaging the same area can help promote down-there relaxation during childbirth to prevent tearing, per the study.)
In the study, participants who massaged the area to promote bowel movements experienced improved bowel function, compared to the group that didn’t do the hands-on technique. Also: 82 percent of those who did use the technique said they’d continue to use it long after the study was over. While more research is needed, it’s definitely worth a try the next time you’re backed up and at your wit’s end trying to figure out how to make yourself poop.
6. Try an over-the-counter laxative.
Polyethylene glycol 3350 is made up of compounds that are not digestible and not absorbable — which means they cause a diarrheal effect, says Dr Lee.
At lower doses, it can help prevent constipation, and at higher doses, it can induce diarrhoea. So you can adjust the dose you take if you want to get things moving just slightly without them getting disastrous, she says.
7. Or try a prescription laxative if things get really bad.
Lee also recommends talking to your doctor about trying prescription laxatives if none of the other methods have worked. “Prescription drugs are effective, but they can be expensive, so they should generally be left as a last resort after you’ve tried these other methods,” she says.
Another downside of laxative medications: Your body can get used to them, so eventually you might not be able to go poop without them if you use them too often.
8. Try squatting over the toilet when you think you might be ready to go.
The squatting position can be mimicked by putting a stool under your feet to raise your knees up, says Dr Peyton Berookim, a gastroenterologist and director of the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Squatting modifies the anatomy by relaxing the muscles in that area while also elevating the part of your colon that makes for easier emptying of the bowel. “The closer you are to a full squat, the easier it will be to poop,” he says.
9. Give yourself a belly rub.
No really—applying moderate pressure and massaging your abdomen in a clockwise direction can help you move your bowels, says Dr Berookim. Colonic massage has been shown to improve constipation, he says.
This can be performed by applying moderate pressure along the horseshoe shape of the colon in your right lower quadrant. Then continue moving up to the rib cage, across the stomach and underneath the ribs to your left lower quadrant, which is the point where stool is emptied.
10. Make sure you’re properly hydrated.
“One of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration,” Dr Berookim says. “When the body is poorly hydrated, it will compensate by withdrawing water from the large intestine (colon) resulting in hard stools.”
A good rule of thumb is to drink 30ml of water for every 1 kilo of your body weight, he says.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
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