Many women support (splint) their pelvic floor during bowel emptying.
If you’re one of the many women who use this technique, take comfort in the knowledge that you’re definitely not alone!
Read on now to learn:
- What is pelvic floor splinting?
- When is pelvic floor splinting used?
- Benefits versus risks?
What is Pelvic Floor Splinting?
Pelvic floor splinting is manually supporting the pelvic openings during bowel movements.
Splinting usually involves the pads of the fingers holding up or physically supporting the perineum and/or vagina during bowel emptying.
The perineum is the skin/tissue located between the anus and the vagina (shown below).
When Is Splinting Used?
Women use manual pelvic floor support to support bowel emptying with a range of different pelvic floor problems.
Some women with prolapse problems apply gentle counterpressure
to the perineum and/or vagina to improve the ease of bowel emptying.
Women with rectocoele (posterior vaginal wall prolapse) sometimes use 2 fingers pressed against the internal back vaginal wall to reduce straining with emptying.
- After Prolapse Surgery
The prospect of bowel emptying after prolapse surgery can be terrifying, especially for women who have had perineal repair accompanying their repair.
Gently applying award of roll toilet paper or a soft pad to support the vagina and perineum can improve the ease of bowel movements during the early days of recovery.
- After Recent Childbirth
New mums often benefit from manual perineal support in the early days following vaginal delivery.
Supporting episiotomy stitches in the perineum can provide relief and reduce the fear associated with bowel movements after childbirth.
- Descending Perineum
Descending perineum is a condition where the pelvic floor tissues are stretched and lax. This condition causes the perineum to move downwards with the pressure of bowel emptying.
Some women with descending perineum apply gentle upwards counterpressure to the perineum for additional support during bowel emptying. Counterpressure may be applied using a wad of toilet paper or a pad.
Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Splinting?
For some women there are a number of potential benefits provided by splinting the pelvic floor during bowel movements including:
- Decreasing prolapse bulging during emptying (e.g. with prolapse or after prolapse surgery)
- Reducing discomfort (e.g. after vaginal delivery)
- Decreasing perineal stretch (e.g. descending perineum)
- Reducing straining to empty
There are no major risks from pelvic floor splinting!
During bowel emptying it’s important to remember to:
- Maintain the correct seated posture with the inward curve in the lower back
- Using the brace and bulge bowel emptying technique (shown in the video right)
- Adhering to good hygiene with thorough hand washing
Key Points For Pelvic Floor Splinting With Bowel Emptying
- Many women manually support their pelvic floor during bowel movements
- Manual pelvic floor support need not be a source of embarrassment
- Pelvic floor splinting with bowel emptying can be helpful for a range of pelvic floor problems
- Always remember importance of correct posture and technique for optimal bowel emptying
with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway
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