Understanding the Connection Between Constipation and Pelvic Floor Health

By Shannon Strauch, PTA, STMT-1 on 10/19/2023


Constipation is a common gastrointestinal issue that affects people of all ages, affecting approximately over 4 million people in the United States. While it is often perceived as a minor inconvenience, chronic constipation can have far-reaching consequences, especially when it comes to pelvic floor health. The pelvic floor, a group of muscles and connective tissues, plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including bowel movements. In this blog, we will explore the connection between constipation and pelvic floor health, understanding how they are interrelated and what you can do to maintain a healthy pelvic floor.

The Pelvic Floor: A Complex Network of Muscles

Before delving into the relationship between constipation and pelvic floor health, it's essential to understand the pelvic floor's structure and function. The pelvic floor is a network of muscles and tissues that spans the bottom of the pelvis. It acts like a sling to support several crucial organs, such as the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The primary functions of the pelvic floor include:

  1. Support

    : It supports the organs in the pelvic area, preventing them from descending or prolapsing.

  2. Sphincter Control

    : The pelvic floor muscles help control the release of urine and feces by forming sphincters around the urethra and anus.

  3. Stability

    : The pelvic floor contributes to core stability and helps with posture.

  4. Sexual Function

    : These muscles also play a role in sexual pleasure and function.

The Digestive System

While it is important to have mobility in the pelvic floor muscles and joints, such as the hips and sacrum, it is also important to pay attention to motility of the digestive system. Motility is the normal movement of muscles and digestive organs that keeps food moving through the digestive tract. If a person has poor or sluggish motility, this can lead to delayed bowel movements and constipation. Diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, pelvic dyssynergia, and gastroparesis all can cause digestive motility issues. A trained pelvic floor therapist can perform visceral mobilizations and educate you how to treat some of these symptoms.

Constipation and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

When constipation becomes a chronic issue, it can lead to problems in the pelvic floor, known as pelvic floor dysfunction. Here's how constipation and pelvic floor issues are interconnected:

  1. Straining

    : Chronic constipation often leads to straining during bowel movements. Straining increases the pressure on the pelvic floor, potentially weakening the muscles over time.

  2. Holding Back

    : Individuals with constipation might develop a habit of holding back bowel movements due to fear of pain, further straining the pelvic floor and making it difficult for stool to pass.

  3. Muscle Tension

    : Chronic constipation can cause the pelvic floor muscles to become tense or hypertonic, making it harder for them to relax when necessary.

  4. Prolapse Risk

    : The increased intra-abdominal pressure from straining can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic organs shift from their normal positions.

  5. Nerve Sensitivity

    : Chronic constipation can lead to nerve sensitization, causing discomfort and pain in the pelvic area.

Maintaining Pelvic Floor Health

To maintain a healthy pelvic floor and reduce the risk of complications due to constipation, consider the following tips:

  1. Fiber-Rich Diet

    : A diet high in fiber promotes regular bowel movements and reduces the likelihood of constipation.

  2. Hydration

    : Drinking enough water is crucial for softening stool and preventing constipation.

  3. Good Toilet Habits

    : Allow yourself sufficient time for bowel movements and avoid straining. A footstool under your feet can help with proper alignment.

  4. Correct Strengthening Exercises or Stretching Poses

    : A trained pelvic floor therapist will be able to assess and see if you would benefit from strengthening or lengthening of the pelvic floor muscles to help with constipation.

  5. Seek Medical Advice

    : If you experience chronic constipation or signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, consult a healthcare professional, such as a gastroenterologist or pelvic floor physical therapist.


Understanding the connection between constipation and pelvic floor health is crucial for maintaining overall well-being. Chronic constipation can have a significant impact on the pelvic floor, leading to various complications. By adopting a proactive approach to managing constipation and promoting pelvic floor health through diet, exercise, and proper habits, you can reduce the risk of developing related issues and enjoy a better quality of life. Remember, seeking professional advice is always a wise decision if you're dealing with chronic constipation or pelvic floor problems.

If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunctions associated with the issues above, please reach out to us at Pelvic Health Center in Madison, NJ to set up an evaluation and treatment! Feel free to call us at 908-443-9880 or email us at

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