Constipation is among the most common health problems — studies show one in five people regularly experience it. 

And while pharmacy shelves are filled with remedies that claim to offer a quick fix — from probiotic pills to slow-acting laxatives — one top doctor says there’s a fail-safe treatment that few know about.

Anal health expert Dr Evan Goldstein recommends trying toys used in the bedroom to relax the rectum

Anal health expert Dr Evan Goldstein recommends trying toys used in the bedroom to relax the rectum

Anal health expert Dr Evan Goldstein is encouraging millions of Americans to try something new: toys. 

Specifically, he recommends tools designed for pleasure to stretch the rectum.

According to Dr Goldstein, an anal surgeon practicing in New York whose new book Butt Seriously explores all things anal health, the key is relaxing the pelvic muscles to allow the stool to release: ‘Achieving full relaxation is key.’

Relaxing the tight muscles around the rectum improves flexibility there, making bowel movements less painful when they become compacted.

The tools used to do this are typically ones used in the bedroom.

Dr Goldstein said: ‘This is one area in which practicing with anal dilators and toys can be extremely useful to someone who isn’t interested in exploring anal sex. 

‘[The toys] help people get a better understanding of their pelvic floor and what it feels like when it relaxes.’

The tools to seek out should be made of smooth medical grade silicone and must be washed with warm water and gentle soap and dried thoroughly after every use.

Up to 20 percent of Americans deal with constipation on a weekly basis, but are uncomfortable talking about creative ways to resolve it that go beyond fiber supplements and stool softeners

Up to 20 percent of Americans deal with constipation on a weekly basis, but are uncomfortable talking about creative ways to resolve it that go beyond fiber supplements and stool softeners

He added: ‘That relaxation also encourages deep breathing. All these factors together are why using toys and dilators can frequently elicit a bowel movement. 

‘Anyone who struggles with constipation could be well served by experimenting with dilation and seeing if the extra attention to relaxation it requires helps relieve the issue.’

But for those who may feel uneasy about the prospect of inserting something into their rectum, Dr Goldstein says that certain oral remedies can help.

Stool softeners and milk of magnesia, which draws water into the gut to soften stools, are often safe bets.

Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement less than three times a week.

It typically occurs when a person takes in too little fiber and water.

It can also result from problems with the pelvic floor muscles. When pelvic muscles become weak over time from too much strained pushing, it becomes progressively harder for those muscles to correctly contract and relax to pass stool.

Women are twice as likely to experience constipation than men, likely due to hormone and anatomical differences. Women’s colons are an estimated 10 centimeters longer than men’s, on average.

Because of this, food must travel longer through the digestive tract, more water to be reabsorbed from the waste, making it harder and more difficult to pass.

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Fluctuations in levels of the female hormone progesterone throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle also affects bowel movements. 

An increased amount of it slows the contractions in the intestines which move food along.

This results in a longer amount of time that stool remains in the colon, thus allowing more moisture from the stool to be reabsorbed in the body, resulting in a harder, more difficult stool to pass.

Drinking enough water can restore moisture in the colon to remedy the issue and prevent it from happening again. 

Hydration not only hydrates the colon and softens stool, it also keeps the smooth muscle in the colon healthy and maintains normal patterns of contraction and relaxation that moves stool along.

The methods to deal with constipation can be tried in combination with one another, but if nothing works, Dr Goldstein recommends seeking out a doctor for more help.

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