The Misdiagnosed Cause of Constipation
Do you suffer from extreme bloating and constipation? Have you already tried changes to your diet and lifestyle, yet nothing works? If so, the underlying condition causing these symptoms could be misdiagnosed.
In an article with Prevention magazine, 33-year-old educator Caren G. describes a lifetime suffering from constipation.
Her gastroentrologist initially diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The Mayo Clinic defines IBS as a common disorder that causes constipation, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. However, IBS can be managed by cutting out foods that cause gas or irritate your bowels.
For Caren, however, none of these measures worked. She eventually wound up in the ER with intense pain caused by the 16 pounds of stool and fluid buildup obstructing her intestine.
The real culprit? Pelvic floor dysfunction.
What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to a variety of disorders that affect your pelvic floor - the group of muscles that support your bladder and rectum. According to the Cleveland Clinic, those who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction can't control their pelvic muscles and are unable to have proper bowel movements.
It's also way more common than you think. Pelvic floor dyfunction can affect as many as 1 in 4 women.
How Do I know If I Have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Everyone suffers from diarrhea and constipation from time to time. In some cases, these symptoms can be attributed to IBS or related disorders. If they continue to persist despite major lifestyle and diet changes, then you should do the research and consult your doctor.
You may have pelvic floor dysfunction if you have the following symptoms:
- Frequent or painful urination
- Feeling of "incomplete" bowel movements
- Frequent urges for bowel movements in a short period
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in genitals, rectum, or pelvic region
What To Do Next
Pelvic floor dysfunction is highly treatable, and can often be managed with physical therapy. Once she was properly diagnosed, Caren underwent biofeedback treatment. This process monitors the pelvic floor in order to create an exercise program (similar to Kegels) that will strengthen those muscles.
The important thing is: you don't have to suffer in the dark. We should all feel comfortable talking about our digestive issues. Problems like bloating and constipation are so common that it's silly to feel embarassed!
As Caren told Prevention: "I learned to advocate for myself, voice how I feel, and insist that there had to be an answer." You just have to listen to your body and know when it's time to seek medical help.
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Chef Tips and Tricks
Dive into summer with this fresh, light and healthy mango salad!
- 2 limes
- Olive oil
- Soy sauce
- Red onion, minced
- Lightly sautée the peanuts until golden.
- Take the carrots and cut into thin slices.
- Peel the mango and slice into thin strips.
- Squeeze the juice from 2 limes into a bowl, and add olive oil, soy sauce, minced onion, salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, toss together the mango, carrot, rocket, and lime-soy dressing.