Whether before, during, or after a bowel movement, anal discomfort can make life a little unbearable. Though you shouldn’t let ongoing anal pain go without talking to a healthcare professional, making a few lifestyle changes may ease some discomfort.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Town and Country, Missouri, our board-certified family physician Dr. Betsy Clemens wants to share some of her best tips for managing anal discomfort.
1. Eat more fiber
Anal discomfort may occur from any number of causes, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or an infection. You may experience increased pain during a bowel movement with these anorectal disorders. If the pain is severe, you may hold it in your stool, worsening the problem by making the stool dryer. Larger and harder to pass.
Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate that softens stool, making it easier to pass. When bowel movements cause pain, adding more fiber to your diet may help. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good sources of fiber. You can also try a fiber supplement.
When increasing fiber in your diet, go slow to prevent constipation and gas, adding about 2-3 grams per day. We also recommend increasing your water intake to help keep things moving.
2. Get more physical activity
Food isn’t the only way to improve bowel movements. Exercise helps too.
The longer it takes for food to move through your large intestine, the more water your body withdraws from the food waste. This creates dry, large, hard stools that are painful to eliminate. Physical activity speeds up food movement through your large intestine, improving bowel habits.
Wait at least an hour after eating before engaging in exercise. This is because your digestive system needs an adequate blood supply to digest and move food through properly. If you work out too close to meal times, blood flows to the muscles instead, causing a slowdown in the digestive tract.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity up to five days a week.
3. Limit toilet time
Do you have a bathroom book? Are you using your toilet time to catch up on the news? This extra time on the toilet may worsen your anal discomfort by putting extra pressure on the anal tissue.
When you have the urge to go, go. But limit your toilet time to no more than 10 minutes. And don’t overwipe or use scented toilet paper to prevent further irritation of the delicate tissue.
You can also try soaking your bottom in a warm tub of water for 10 minutes a few times a day. This sitz bath cleans the anal area, reduces muscle spasms, and helps heal the underlying cause of your anal pain.
If you continue to have pain after implementing lifestyle changes, it’s time to come in for help. Call our office at 314-669-2758 today to schedule an appointment with our expert.