Why Are You Straining to Poop in the First Place?
To understand the dangers of pushing too hard to poop, you need to first understand why it is you’re doing so to begin with. Have you had a bowel movement recently? Are you an expecting mother or someone who has underlying health issues? These are all common reasons that can make you feel the need to strain when trying to get that pesky poop out. Let’s dive into each one!
Being constipated is no doubt, one of the most uncomfortable and infuriating things that happen to about 2.5 million Americans. When we say you’re not alone, literally, you’re not. Constipation can be a symptom of age, poor diet, dehydration, travel, medications, lack of exercise, or pregnancy.
How long can you go without a bowel movement? If you’re at the point of straining, it’s probably been too long.
You’re Pregnant (So You’re Probably Constipated)
Constipation is especially common in pregnant women — as if growing a child isn’t strenuous enough. You could be the healthiest pregnant woman with a nutritious diet, and still end up constipated. That’s because your growing baby has taken over all the space that your intestines and colon once had to expand and expedite your bowel movements. Because they’re getting smushed, your butt is unfortunately signaling you to push. Don’t listen to that reflex!
Elderly folks or those with health issues or digestive problems are also very prone to straining when on the toilet. Certain medications may make you constipated or give you the illusion of being constipated, called tenesmus. Tenesmus can be a result of conditions such as colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or a disorder of the intestines. Even with a medical condition, it is important to reduce the amount of strain.
Poor Pooping Position
Another cause for pushing too hard to poop is the unnatural, default pooping posture we get when sitting on western toilets. The posture of sitting upright with your feet on the ground, does your gut no favors in easing the act of pooping. No matter if you suffer from constipation or not, you do your butt a great favor to use a toilet stool. This forces your feet off the ground, therefore raising your knees up so you end up in more of a squatting position.
What Happens to Your Butt When You Push Too Hard
Now that we’ve gone over the reasons why you may be straining on the toilet, here’s what you really want to know — what happens to your butt when you’re doing all that pushing?! Yes, sometimes passing a large load can feel like giving birth, but trust us, you don’t want to be pushing like a pregnant lady to try and pass your poop.
The force is not with you here, unless your goal is to rip your asshole.
Straining to poop is one of the prime causes of hemorrhoids, which is essentially varicose veins in your butt. When you bear down hard to try and make a bowel movement, all that pressure goes to your anus, and you risk bursting anal veins and the tissue around it. Unpleasant is hardly the word.
Excessive straining may not always result in hemorrhoids, but you’re not out of the clear entirely. Your butthole is surrounded by delicate skin tissue and pushing too hard can lead to anal fissures and tears.
These little rips make pooping even more painful and sometimes bloody. Think of it like little papercuts on your asshole. Yeah, seriously shitty.
Having hemorrhoids or anal fissures can give you bleeding from your bum. Hello rectal bleeding! Nothing like the sheer panic of wiping your butt only to see red on the toilet paper.
If you’ve been constipated or straining lately, take extra care of your butt by gently wiping or rinsing it off after using the toilet. The less friction down there, the better!
The most severe consequence of straining to poop is ending up with a rectal prolapse, which means exactly what it says. The lining of your rectum protrudes out of your anus. This is stuff nightmares are made of — like human centipede vibes, times ten. Avoid all these anus issues by following our tips to ease the strain below!
Here’s How to Ease the Strain
We want to help you, help your butt! Relaxing your butt on the toilet is like a breath of fresh air, but it can be easier said than done, especially when you’re constipated. However, if you want to avoid unpleasant rectal problems as a result of pushing too hard to poop, try out these tips on easing the strain.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water
Drinking water is a surprising little magical habit that can help solve ailments — imagine that! It’s great for digestion as it helps flush out toxins, keeps you hydrated, and therefore helps keep things moving in your digestive tract.
Eat more fiber
Fibrous foods are the holy grail of avoiding constipation or helping to ease it. Raw fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are high in fiber and can help soften your stools so you won’t feel the need to strain to poop.
Sit with your knees higher than your hips
Achieving a good pooping position can make all the difference in the amount of straining needed when trying to pass a hard bowel movement on a normal toilet. Modern, westernized toilets, though beautiful in their variety, are a huge disservice to all those with buttholes.
The most natural, and easiest way to pass poop is when seated in a squatted position. Using a toilet stool is a super easy way to achieve this, as it instantly relieves pressure on your rectal canal, resulting in less strain for your bum!
Don’t hold your breath
Though it may feel like it, you’re not giving birth, so please don’t hold your breath and push with all your might. Holding your breath reinforces the need to push, so instead try some deep breathing to promote relaxation.
Sit without straining and wait for the ejection reflex
While you’re taking some deep breaths, try sitting patiently and waiting to see if your ejection reflex activates. It does exactly what it sounds like it does — your anus reflexes in preparation to pass a bowel movement. This is an involuntary response and should happen naturally if it’s possible.
Try abdominal massages
Strange as it may sound, if you’ve been constipated you’re probably willing to try anything to get that poop out. Abdominal massages are not a new, or taboo concept. In fact, it’s been used as a treatment for chronic constipation since 1870. It can help move stool along and relieve cramping or bloating.
Consider adding probiotics to your diet
Probiotics are natural, live cultures that greatly contribute to our gut’s microbiome. They can be found in yogurt, kefir or taken as supplements. Probiotics help restore your bowel’s functions and increase stool frequency.
Straining to Poop is Not the Answer
You should have enough info by now to understand that straining to poop is not the answer, or quick fix, for constipation or other bowel ailments. Resist the urge to push, and it could save you from doing further damage to your anus like hemorrhoids, anal fissures or rectal bleeding.
Instead try adjusting your pooping posture, taking deep breaths to encourage relaxing your rectum, or adding more fiber and probiotics to your diet.