If you’ve ever had an issue going to the bathroom, you know that sometimes you’re willing to try anything to get some relief. Fiber, stool softeners, cleanses—whatever, bring it on.
But there’s one thing you probably haven’t tried, and it might be the key to get things moving with zero side effects. The downside: It’s a little…hands on. The technique involves massaging your perineum—that stretch of skin separating your private parts from your anus. (Yeah, we know, but stay with us.) The spot contains a pressure point that, when massaged, can ease constipation, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Because constipation is a super-common complaint—up to 19 percent of us deal with it, states the study, and it strikes more women than men—researchers decided to look into alternative ways to ease that plugged-up feeling besides eating more fiber-rich foods and scoring more exercise. Pregnant women have long been advised to massage their perineum regularly to help relax the area and prevent tearing during labor, and the researchers theorized that massage might help relax the bowels as well.
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They divided 100 subjects who all had constipation into two groups: One group was given info on standard treatments, while the other received the treatment option info and were also taught how to self-massage the perineum. After four weeks, the researchers found that the massage group experienced improved bowel function compared to the first group. Participants who did the massage said the technique helped break up or soften their stool, and 82 percent said they would keep doing it after the study ended.
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The conclusion, according to the researchers: Doctors should teach their constipated patients how to do a perineal massage instead of just telling them about bran cereal or encouraging them to work out. And while more research needs to be done to confirm that this hands-on method is truly effective, it can’t hurt to try it next time you feel clogged (and have some privacy, of course!).
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