toliet paper smile

Without trying to be too graphic here, it is important to remember that a good poop can really make a person feel good. Even more, healthy bowel movements have also been linked with a feminine self-esteem, as well as being able to maintain a relationship.

            From the journal Gut, a 2001 study looked at 34 women between the ages of 19 and 45 who had suffered from constipation for five years or more and compared these women with those of the same age range who had no history of constipation. They asked all the 'poopers' (not a medical term) and 'non-poopers' (also not a medical term) to complete psychological assessments to gauge how they felt about their femininity and their ability to form and maintain intimate relationships.

            When looking at the results, what was clearly shown was the constipated participants had a worse score for overall health, and felt less feminine about themselves. The constipated women also found it much harder to form close relationships than the non-constipated women.

            Interestingly, this study also looked at rectal blood flow, which reflects the function of nerve pathways from the brain to the gut. These nerve pathways are often affected by stress. Reduced rectal blood flow was strongly associated with anxiety, depression, bodily symptoms, and impaired social skills, as well as feeling "unfeminine." The higher the psychologically abnormal score, the lower was the rectal blood flow.

            The authors of this study concluded that a women's individual psychological make-up alters the function of the involuntary nerves that link the brain to the gut. Reduced activity of these nerves slows down gut function, resulting in constipation. Since it is known that most neurotransmitters needed for good brain mood are made in the digestive tract, slowed gut function may play a role in how a women feels about herself, and how she responds in a relationship. Other studies have also shown higher rates of psychiatric issues with persons who have bowel problems like Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

            Learning this, it makes sense to help get things moving. How can we get started? Stress reduction, acupuncture, meditation, yoga and other work may help. How about a little fiber for a better relationship and self-esteem? Some choices would be drinking plenty water while adding a plentiful amount of fruits and veggies. If this is not enough, sometimes flaxmeal, psyllium, or organic dried prunes may do the trick to, as my Great Uncle Joe used to say, ' get the pipes moving'.

Reference: Emmanuel AV, Mason HJ, Kamm MA. Relationship between psychological state and level of activity of extrinsic gut innervation in patients with a functional gut disorder 2001; 49; 209-13

Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc practices in New York, and recently authored Healing Depression: Integrated Naturopathic and Conventional Therapies

About the Author

Peter Bongiorno

Peter Bongiorno is a naturopathic doctor and the author of Healing Depression: Integrated Naturopathic and Conventional Treatments.

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