Stool Softener Foods that Avoid Prolapse Worsening

Many women are terrified of straining with constipation and worsening their prolapse problems. stool softener foods

Straining causes and worsens prolapse.

Stool softener foods can help avoid straining and promote recovery from common rectal problems (e.g. hemorrhoids, fissures and rectal prolapse).

Stool softener laxatives (Coloxyl or Colace) can cause unpleasant side effects including nausea, bloating, cramps and diarrhoea.

Read on below to soften your stool with:

  1. Best stool softener foods
  2. Foods that make stools hard (limit these)
  3. Best stool softener fluids
  4. Best stool softener fibre
  5. Bowel problems caused by too much fibre
  6. The best stool consistency for bowel movements

1. Best Stool Softener Foods

If your stool is too hard you may benefit from gradually increasing your consumption of foods known to soften the stool.

Foods that soften the stool include:

  • Vegetables – green beans, spinach, red capsicum, members of the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts which can cause increased wind/gas production)Stone fruit
  • Fruit – fresh apricots, peaches, plums, grapes, prunes
  • High Fibre Cereals – bran, multigrain breads and cereals
  • Snacks – popped corn, chocolate
  • Spices* – chilli, curry
  • Fibre supplements – detailed below
  • Additives – artificial sweeteners* Sorbitol or Mannitol

*Can cause bladder urgency

2. Foods That Firm The Stool

Some foods are known to firm the stool. If you are trying to soften your stool you may wish to limit or avoid the following foods if they make your stool too hard.

Foods that firm the stool include:boiled white rice

  • Low fibre cereals – white pasta, boiled white rice, white bread
  • Mashed potato
  • Cheese
  • Bananas
  • White Marshmallows
  • Tapioca
  • Pretzels

These foods can contribute to constipation and straining.

3. Best Stool Softener Fluids

Fluid intake is also important in ensuring your stool is the right consistency. Your fluid intake needs to be adequate to soften your stool.

If you are increasing your fibre intake, commencing a fibre supplement or taking stool softener medications it is important to increase your fluid intake.

  • Water
  • Prune, orange or grape juice
  • Caffeine* containing drinks e.g. coffee, tea
  • Alcohol* (red wine or beer)

*Note – can cause bladder urgency

How Much Fluid to Drink?

While water is the recommended fluid of choice, herbal teas and foods high in fluid also contribute to daily fluid intake.

Most healthy women can aim towards 2 litres/day of fluid to increase the effects of fibre on stool consistency however this will differ for some individuals with medical conditions that restrict fluid intake.

4. Best Stool Softener Fibre

The fibre you consume affects your stool consistency and the movement of waste through the bowel (bowel motility).

Soft stool consistency is promoted by consuming approximately 25-30 grams of fibre/day. For healthy adults 25-30 grams of daily fibre intake includes:

  • 2 serves of fruit
  • 5 serves of vegetables
  • 4-5 serves of cereals

The fibre we consume can be grouped into two types; soluble and insoluble fibre.

Many foods contain both insoluble and soluble fibres and most healthy adults derive health benefits from consuming both types of fibre in their diet.


Insoluble fibre is the fibre that helps to soften stools. Insoluble fibre is not digestible and it increases the speed of waste movement though the body, a little like sweeping out the bowel.

You can often recognise insoluble fibres from their chewy fibrous texture for example fruit skins and vegetable peels.

Sources of insoluble fibre include:

  • Wholegrain foods e.g. brown rice, wholegrain cereal, wheat bran, wholegrain bread,
  • Fruits with edible skins e.g. pears, apples, stone fruit
  • Vegetables e.g. corn, spinach
  • Nuts and seeds

Two Problems With Too Much Insoluble Fibre

Too much insoluble fibre can cause different bowel problems for different women including constipation or diarrhoea. Eating the right amount of insoluble fibre in your diet for your body can take some trial and error to get right.

If you are increasing fibre in your diet, do this slowly to allow your bowel to become accustomed and reduce the risk of bloating and discomfort. If you are on a medically prescribed low fibre diet speak with your doctor for approval before making any changes to your fibre intake.

a. Constipation

If you are constipated or prone to constipation avoid the mistake of consuming too much insoluble fibre (and too little fluid).

While insoluble fibre softens the stool, it is not broken down in the bowel and if too much is consumed this fibre will actually slow down bowel motility, causing gas and bloating, abdominal pain and contribute to constipation.

To help constipation women often need to ‘clear the blockage’ or hard stool first with appropriate medication before increasing fibre. Once the hard stool has been passed, insoluble fibre is then gradually introduced into the diet to reduce the likelihood of becoming constipated in the future.

b. Diarrhoea

Consuming too much insoluble fibre can also cause diarrhoea in some women by speeding up bowel motility. Women with faecal incontinence problems typically need to reduce their insoluble fibre intake to help firm their stool and slow down bowel motility.


Soluble fibre absorbs water in the bowel forming a gel-like consistency.

Soluble fibre helps digestion and improves the absorption of nutrients. Soluble fibre can help to reduce diarrhoea if the stool is too loose.

Sources of soluble fibre include:

  • Oats
  • Pysllium
  • Fruit (e.g. oranges, passionfruit, avocado)
  • Vegetables – sweet potato, chick peas, baked beans, soy beans


Bulking agents/fibre supplements absorb water from the intestine helping to soften and gel the stool consistency e.g. Psyllium (Metamucil), Guar Gum (Benefibre), Sterculia (Normafibe). Bulking agents can help stool consistency long-term however they can cause worsening constipation of you are already constipated.

Ideally constipation should be addressed first with an appropriate laxative medication (speak with your health care provider) and then the bulking agent used as a preventative measure for long-term prevention of constipation.

5. The Best Stool Consistency for Bowel Movements


Bristol Stool Chart

Bristol Stool Chart click to enlarge

Getting your stool consistency right is very important to overcoming constipation and straining. You can check your stool consistency using the Bristol Stool Chart.

How do you rate the appearance of your regular stool using this stool chart Type (1-7)?

  • Type 3-4 – soft well formed and smooth this is the ideal stool consistency that is easily passed
  • Type 1-2 – hard, cracked and/or lumpy stools are difficult to pass making you more prone to constipation and straining
  • Type 5-7 – not well formed and watery can cause diarrhoea and straining to empty completely

Key Points for Stool Softener Foods

Increasing your intake of these stool softener foods and fluids can help you soften your stool, reduce straining with constipation and the need for laxative medications.

  • Increase insoluble fibre (and fluids) gradually over time.
  • Avoid increasing your fibre intake when you are constipated which can worsen constipation and straining.
  • Choosing stool softener foods and reducing your intake of foods known cause hard stools can help you reduce constipation, straining and help you protect your pelvic floor long-term.

Next: 10 Essential Rectocele Repair Rules

Prolapse Exercises Book


ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Prolapse Exercises Inside Out.

Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.




  1. I am having rectocele surgery in July 2019 and my pelvic floor is very strong. I have been researching appropriate foods to avoid constipation and was wondering what is an appropriate laxative or stool softener. My surgeon has advised me that there is always the possibility of failure and stool can exit my vagina if the surgery is unsuccessful.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Vicki

      Great question! I’m not sure where you’re writing from however in Australia we have an osmotic laxative called Movicol. I think the states has a similar product called Osmolax (I could stand corrected). Anyway some surgeons here get their patients to take this from the day after surgery for at least 6 weeks post op. It works by drawing extra fluid i to the bowel thereby enhancing motility and softening the stool. It does not irritate the bowel lining, it gives a gentle bowel movement and does not form dependency. Check with your pharmacist and try before your op. The other benefit is that is doesn’t increase gas like some stool softeners e.g. psyllium husks. Hope this helps, all the best for your surgery & recovery

  2. I suffered from fissures for about 45 years and was operated once and after few months I have to go back to operation room but I refused. Since then I am the doctor of myself. So let me give you some facts that I learned the hard way.

    I avoid cocoa products it is very very bad. avoid peanuts and eat small amounts of meat.

    I eat a lot fruits specially orange but the fiber in fruits and vegetables help but alone they are not softeners. For your and my surprise is that white rice although lack the fiber it is sure sure sure sure is a great softener. Don’t ask me how and why because I don’t know. I avoided white rice for many years just to discover how wrong I was. White rice solved my problem and I am happy since then and I have no need to come near a doctor again.

  3. Hi had constipation problems with hardly any urge taking lower bowel stimulant to help me go this has all happened since my rectal surgery called rectoplexy over two years ago there also seems to be no sensation to my anal sphincter now but there was a tear completely through my last birth 18 years ago seem like I have a rectal distinction going on it all just seems like my pop stays at the point of the internal sphincter now and no sensation to come out so any ideas what is going on I’m so depressed thank u

    • Thank you for the informative information, I found from an earlier questions, I’m better 4-5 days a week, and a lot less irritated, cutting down on the bulk fiber really helped. Hopefully I will get completely better soon it’s been 8 months. I showed my family practice doctor your book and she took the information down for some of her other patients that would benefit from your Inside out exercises and informative information.

  4. Hi Michelle,
    I am a 22 year old diagnosed with a rectocele. I am currently going to a surgeon, but appointments are far and few in between. My surgeon is trying to avoid performing the surgery, because of my young age. But I was wondering if you could give me any outside advice. I am chronically constipated, no matter how much cardio I do, water I drink, or fiber I intake. I an desperate to not have to feel like this anymore.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Ginny

      I understand your desperation.

      Ginny have you seen an accredited practicing dietician? I am not sure where you live; in Australia some Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists have a special interest in treating women with prolapse and constipation.

      It’s great that your surgeon is taking this conservative approach – unfortunately even if he/she did repair the prolapse if you remain constipated then the risk of it recurring when you strain is high. Has your surgeon prescribed any medication to assist you until you can get your diet sorted out too?


      • Michelle,
        I have not seen any dieticians, let alone an accredited one. Although, I probably should really do some research into finding one; especially one with a speciality with dealing with prolapse related issues if possible.
        Yes, I am glad that he is not rushing to perform surgery, but I am also tired of feeling sick all of the time /: . I’m not sure what the next best move would be.
        And no, he has not prescribed any medicine to me. The last time my former doctor tried giving me a few different prescriptions, it was ineffective, and one even made the condition progressively worse. For now, he is suggesting a high fiber/high water intake diet and laxatives/ stool softeners as necessary. Which unfortunately come with there own list of repercussions.

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

          Yes Ginny this would be the best way to go to get some really good advice to help you long term, stay in touch

        • I have found a combination of PEG and colace is best for my prolapse/constipation. Anything stronger and the laxative forces the rectal prolapse through my vagina. I can’t imagine having to go through this at 22. It’s bad enough at 35. If you’re unhappy with your surgeon, insist on another one, as you know time is your enemy. I have prolapse that is surgical because of the idiocy of a surgeon who wasn’t aggressive enough in treating my prolapse during pregnancy. Every day you spend prolapsed is worsening your condition. I find that using the exercises while also supporting the organs (pushing them back up through the muscles) is useful. I wonder how many women are doing exercises with prolapse, essentially reinforcing the prolapse. I find doing kegels while laying down on my left side can cause a movement, as it redirects stool. This is a terrible problem. Good luck.

  5. Hi Michelle, I am suffering from chronic anal fissure. What food shall I eat in order to reverse the effects of steamed white rice. Brown rice isn’t easily available. Among fruits, I am having grapes & papaya.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Dabaleena

      Eating grapes and papaya are good for stool softening. Anal fissure management includes keeping the stool soft to allow the fissure time to heal. I am not sure that it’s possible to reverse effects of white rice maybe try eating less of the white rice if possible and try to find a carbohydrate alternative that’s less processed perhaps in legumes such as chick peas or lentils if you have them available to you.


  6. Thank you so much! This is the most helpful information I have read. I have been searching for a long time for an answer that makes sense. Thank You!

  7. Hi Michelle
    Excellent, clear advise. So much on the web is confusing and this puts the problem (constipation post surgery) into a sensible context.

  8. Hi Michelle. I’m confused. Under the heading above ” 2. Soluble fibre., you state that psyllium doesn’t soften the stool.” But under “3 Bulking agents and fibre supplements, you say that psyllium helps to soften the stool consistency.” Which statement is correct please. Thanks.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Marguerite

      Yes thank you I see the inconsistency. Soluble fibre soaks up water as it passes through the system making a gel-like material. It actually makes the stool firmer rather than softer and slower to pass.

      Psyllium husks are not digested in the gut. If you psyllium with water in a glass you will see how the husks expand forming a gel like substance just as it does in the bowel.

      Does this answer your question?

  9. Hi, I am a 13 year old girl and my internal hemorrhoids would often be aggravated by chronic constipation. Passing stool would be very painful I often feel a blockage clogging my rectal area. In the beginning much bleeding occurred, but not recently. I drink several cups of prune juice, Metamucil, water, and take a few stool softeners and suppositories per day. It hasn’t really helped, and I was wondering if you could tell if I was at risk for a prolapse. That is my greatest concern and I don’t know what to think anymore. Thanks.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Tania
      Straining to empty the bowels is the big problem that can contribute to prolapse. It is important that your condition is reviewed by your doctor and the consult with an accredited practicing dietician who can assist you in analysing your diet and helping you make appropriate changes where required. The big issue is not to overload on fibre when constipated as this can make things worse. The blockage needs to be cleared and then appropriate fibre intake resumed to maintain good stool consistency and bowel motility.

      Easier said than done not to strain when you’re constipated! I assume that you’ve watched the bowel movement video to help you?

      I hope this helps

      • I have; and thank you for the reply. This past year I went to the ER for a bowel obstruction, and though these issues will never go away completely, they’ve lessened considerably. Dumb habits like starving myself have stopped entirely. I have ditched a lot of the excess fiber and my digestion has definitely improved. Breathing exercises and remaining completely calm, mentally and physically, have helped me get through rock-hard constipation with no pain. Again, thank you so much for the work put into this site.

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

          Hi Tania

          My pleasure and yes too much fibre can really tip things towards constipation. Gut movements actually start with the mouth – sounds strange but the digestive system is finely tuned so that when we eat and drink, out gut is stimulated towards moving waste through the system so you’re right about starving which can cause constipation.

          All the best

  10. Wow, Michelle! I am ordering your book tonight!! I am so excited to find your site, full of helpful information! I have several friends whom I am sharing this info with as well, and that I know will want your book, too! I was looking for helpful exercises to begin with, now that I am 13 weeks post-surgery, after a sacrocolpopexy, and ready to get fit again! Thanks!!!!! Susan

  11. Mariellen says

    I have only recently found your web site, Michelle, and I want to thank you for taking an interest in us. I am 66 and I live in the USA. I had a hysterectomy including a cystocele and rectocele about 15 years ago, then two years ago I had a vaginal vault closure because my prolapse was so bad. Now I have a small rectocele. I can’t wait to get the DVD I ordered. It is obvious I have a lot of work to do to strength my muscles.

    Thanks again, mariellen

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Mariellen
      I hope you are exercising well.

      Just thought it also worth mentioning that rectocoele management can be helped with pelvic floor exercises and other strategies too so I thought I’d post you this link on rectocoele repair rules

      Hope this helps you out too, don’t hesitate to let me know if you need any further information.

      Best wishes

  12. Michelle, I would love to thank you for all the help you send out, your book has helped me immensely, all these tips about food and exercise have been fantastic I wish I had discovered you before my hysterectomy 2 years ago, as I now have all sorts of problems and need more surgery however I am trying my very best to do everything I can to avoid more surgery thank you so much, I live in Glasgow in Scotland and am 60 years old and look forward to getting fit and healthy naturally and only hope its not to late thanks again Liz

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Liz

      I am so glad to hear that you feel a little more empowered with your knowledge to look after yourself. I have some lady friends in Scotland who tell me that it is difficult to get access to women’s exercise and pelvic floor services over there, this must be challenging for women like yourself indeed.

      You know Liz when it comes to pelvic floor, I don’t believe it’s ever to late to make positive changes to help.

      All the best to you Liz and thank you for taking the time to write to me, I am most grateful.

      Kindest regards

  13. What type of shoes do you recommend for those with prolapse bladder and rectum ? I love to dress up with heels, but end up with pain in the lower back and
    Lower abdomen. IS there a certain brand you can recommend ?

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Stephanie

      When you wear high heels the height of the heels increase the curve in your lower back thereby placing pressure on the joints in your lower back. When you have back pain your pelvic floor muscles don’t work as well as they might otherwise, they sort of switch off and weaken. So ideally you would be looking at a heel height that doesn’t cause a great sway or arch in your lower back. The other tip is to stand with your knees soft which also helps to unload the lower back for women with sway back.

      All the best

  14. Seems no matter what I do I cannot get it right. My Doctor who is 7 hours away and will not talk by phone or e-mail only reply is take more bulk forming fiber. This seems to make it worse, I’m constipated in the morning and frequently have multiple 6-10 softer BM late afternoon and early evening that feel urgent. I had rectal prolapse repair 7 months ago. (4 live births, hysterectomy 36 years ago, uterine prolapse repair 8 years ago) . I will try some of your suggestions above as this is the first I have seen differentiating types of fiber, if you have any other suggestions please let me know. Your Inside out book came yesterday I hope this helps me get back in shape. Thank you.

  15. I find three figs a day v helpful. Liquorice, of course. And chocolate and diet coke at same time! Otherwise, if constipated regularly, esp whilst on a diet – try a rare bulky meal, once in a while (e.g. steak and chips! and veg of course – just once does the trick for me).
    Am sure there’s a rationale there somewhere. Michelle would know.
    (long-term rectocele/cystocele/rectal prolapse)

  16. Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

    Marilyn with all due respect to your doctor, if you’re already constipated, taking more bulk forming fibre will make you more constipated. Bulk forming fibre can be reintroduced gradually when not constipated. Movicol or Osmolax are simply osmotic laxatives that act by drawing more water into the bowel which softens the still and increases stool motility rather than irritating the bowel wall like many other laxatives e.g. Senna. Speak with your pharmacist before taking, Movicol is usually safe for adults and there’s also a paediatric dose too.

  17. Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

    Hi Christine
    Great to hear from you. Yes I agree figs and liquorice are both fantastic aren’t they! Liquorice tea is a winner too. Wow I haven’t tried the chocolate/diet coke combo but it sounds enticing. Thanks so much for reminding me about these options. Cheers Michelle

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