Detailing Gastroparesis: Unraveling its Impact on Digestion, Constipation, and the Pelvic Floor

By Dr. Christine Martirez PT, DPT on 2/28/2024


Gastroparesis, a condition characterized by delayed stomach emptying, can have far-reaching effects on digestive health. Beyond its impact on the upper gastrointestinal tract, gastroparesis can influence bowel habits, leading to constipation and affecting the pelvic floor. In this blog post, we'll explore the connections between gastroparesis, constipation, and pelvic floor dysfunction, and delve into how pelvic floor physical therapy can offer relief.

Understanding Gastroparesis and its Digestive Impact

  • Gastroparesis Overview

    Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach muscles fail to move food efficiently into the small intestine. This delay in gastric emptying can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and feelings of fullness.

  • Constipation and Gastroparesis

    Gastroparesis can disrupt the natural flow of digestion, impacting the movement of food through the entire gastrointestinal tract. This can contribute to constipation, causing infrequent or difficult bowel movements.

Gastroparesis, Constipation, and the Pelvic Floor

  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Constipation

    Constipation, whether linked to gastroparesis or other factors, can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. Straining during bowel movements, a common consequence of constipation, can lead to tension and imbalances in the pelvic floor muscles.

  • Pelvic Floor and Digestive Coordination

    The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in maintaining bowel continence and supporting the expulsion of stool. Disruptions in the digestive process, such as those caused by gastroparesis, can impact the coordination between the digestive organs and the pelvic floor.

  • Straining and Pelvic Floor Tension

    Chronic constipation can lead to habitual straining during bowel movements, placing excessive pressure on the pelvic floor. Over time, this can result in pelvic floor muscle tension, contributing to issues such as pelvic pain and difficulty relaxing the muscles.

How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help

  • Comprehensive Assessment:

    Pelvic floor physical therapists conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify the specific challenges related to gastroparesis, constipation, and pelvic floor dysfunction. This includes evaluating muscle tone, posture, strength, coordination, and any signs of tension.

  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Relaxation Techniques:

    Therapists utilize targeted techniques to release tension in the pelvic floor muscles. This may involve manual therapy, stretching exercises, and relaxation techniques to address muscle imbalances.

  • Biofeedback for Coordination:

    Biofeedback is a valuable tool in pelvic floor physical therapy. It provides real-time feedback on muscle activity, helping individuals learn to coordinate their pelvic floor muscles more effectively during bowel movements.

  • Education on Bowel Habits:

    Pelvic floor therapists offer education on healthy bowel habits, including proper positioning during bowel movements, dietary recommendations, and lifestyle modifications to promote regularity.

  • Strengthening Exercises:

    Tailored exercises are prescribed to strengthen pelvic floor and surrounding muscles. This helps improve overall muscle function and supports effective bowel evacuation.

Empowering Individuals for Digestive Well-Being

  • Nutritional Guidance:

    Pelvic floor physical therapists may collaborate with dieticians to provide guidance on dietary choices that support digestive health. This can include recommendations for fiber intake, hydration, and meal timing.

  • Mind-Body Connection:

    Recognizing the mind-body connection is integral to pelvic floor physical therapy. Therapists help individuals understand the impact of stress and anxiety on pelvic floor function and provide strategies for stress management.

A Holistic Approach to Digestive Health

Gastroparesis, constipation, and pelvic floor dysfunction are interconnected aspects of digestive health that require a comprehensive approach. Pelvic floor physical therapy offers a tailored and effective solution, addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes. By empowering individuals with tools for improved muscle function, coordination, and digestive habits, pelvic floor therapy becomes an essential component of a holistic approach to digestive well-being.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to gastroparesis or constipation, then pelvic floor physical therapy is for you! Here at Pelvic Health Center, our highly experienced team will be able to help craft a plan of care that suits your goals. Feel free to call us at 908-443-9880 or email us at

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