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  • Samara Nanayakkara

Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

7 years ago I spent two – months in South – east Asia, where I surprisingly didn’t get ‘Bangkok Belly.’ Six months later, I was violently ill and hospitalized twice for an “intestine infection.” I instantly lost 7kg and the ability to digest dairy, legumes, gluten and grains.

One Lindt chocolate ball would have me running to the bathroom as the side effects were….explosive! It was embarrassing working so closely with clients and having to excuse myself because I couldn’t control wind or stools, and got to the stage where I was too scared to eat before I went to work or saw my friends.

My honeymoon in Mexico last year was déjà vu for my poor gut – one suspicious taco led to two weeks of uncontrollable diarrhea, gas and a 5kg weight loss – we spent a lot of time in our hotel room but for all the wrong reasons!

Bloating can be a painful symptom of IBS

The Long Road to Diagnosis

Last year multiple tests and appointments with doctors, naturopaths, and nutritionists finally concluded that I had brought home a little pet – salmonella to be exact – which grew in my intestines – feeding off the sugar, dairy, and processed rubbish I was putting into my body. A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was made, and the healing journey began.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder in which abdominal pain is associated with diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Other common symptoms of IBS include: - bloating (a sensation of fullness in the belly)

- urgency (the need to use a restroom in a hurry)

- mucus (white or yellow liquid) in the stool, and the sensation of incompletely passing stools. - genetics and prior adverse life experiences ( infection, trauma)can predispose someone to get IBS.

The symptoms appear to result from disturbances in gut motility (muscle contractions) & increased sensitivity to food, gas, or stool in the bowel. Your bowel may also be overly reactive to eating, stress, emotional arousal, GI infections, menstrual period & gaseous distention.

Bowel Dysfunction & Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction

One nasty side effect of trying to control wind and diarrhea was developing a “tight” pelvic floor. I knew the risks of constantly having the pelvic floor switched on to try to keep everything in and save my dignity, but the years of not letting it relax took its toll.

A hypertonic pelvic floor can cause:

- pain with penetration – for intercourse, and inserting a tampon or menstrual cup

- pain with opening the bowels

- difficulty with completely emptying the bowels

- skinny, snake – like stools

- pain in the rectum

- difficulty contracting the pelvic floor to stop urinary incontinence with a cough, sneeze, laugh or lift

Treatment for IBS

Do you know if your pelvic floor is over – active?

Is it hard to relax your pelvic floor?

Managing IBS requires a team which may include your doctor, gastroenterologist, pelvic floor physiotherapist, nutritionist and naturopath.

Book in for an assessment today – pelvic floor physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat fecal incontinence, fecal urgency, constipation with reduced or no urge, straining and dyssyneric defecation, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and under – activity of the pelvic floor.

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