Relieving the pain with exercises that are similar to Kegel exercises

Patients found to be suffering from poorly coordinated bowel movement may be taught to contract and relax the bowel related muscles appropriately. Much like the Kegel exercises that women do to reduce urinary incontinence – another pelvic floor dis​​​​​​order – after childbirth, patients are trained until they get the coordination right, Dr Mark​ Wong​, Senior Consultant​, Department of Colorectal Surgery and Director, Pelvic Floor Disorders Service​​, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group ​said. They also do the exercises regularly at home.

Women are more prone to pelvic floor disorders as the​​​​​ir pelvic floor supports more organs and, so, weakens more easily. Ageing and childbirth are also known to increase the risk of pelvic floor disorders.

The exercises that Ms K​ learnt have helped her to have more regular bowel movements. She no longer relies on laxatives and is able to pass motion, even when on vacation overseas.

Common causes of constipation

Besides having a pelvic floor disorder, there are other factors that can cause constipation. These are:

  1. Drinking too little water
  2. Taking too little or too much fibre
  3. Lack of exercise
  4. Stress
  5. Medical conditions such as stroke, depression and eating disorders
  6. Side effects from medication like antidepressant pills and iron pills
  7. Pregnancy
  8. Colorectal cancer

Pelvic floor disorder: other problems may surface too

A weakness in the pelvic floor often l​eads to other problems, such as urinary problems and a womb prolapse.

For that reason, it is easier​ for the patient to be seen by a multidisciplinary team of doctors in order to get a treatment that will be able to meet the patient's treatment needs.

“We believe that three minds are be​tter than one. Sometimes, patients may need combined surgery, so the doctors will work together so patients will need only one operation to solve multiple problems,” said Dr Wong.

See previous page to learn why pelvic floor disorder can cause constipation​.​

​Ref: T12