Hello friends! Does a cup of coffee in the morning seem to make you need to poop? What about eating a meal? You aren’t crazy—eating and drinking can make us need to go!
Our bodies have a reflex called the gastrocolic reflex. When we eat, this reflex causes our bodies release a hormone called gastrin. Gastrin causes a cascade of events that stimulates our digestive system to move things (and can move poop through the colon). This mass movement of the digestive system can happen several times per day and it generally happens after eating.
This reflex is most active in the morning. We can use it to our advantage to help regulate our bowels. Within thirty minutes of waking up, try eating and/or drinking something to jump start the gastrocolic reflex. Doing so can help to regulate your bowel movements and help avoid issues like constipation and bloating. That’s why mom used to say breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
A warm beverage may start this reflex as well—which is why a cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning can really get things moving!
There are many other factors that are involved in the digestive system and pooping. Staying hydrated is important to help form stools. Ideally, poop would be between a 3 and 5 on the Bristol stool scale.
As always, the pelvic floor muscles are important in constipation and pooping, too. When we are ready to poop, the pelvic floor muscles should be able to relax and open to allow stool to leave the rectum through the anus. On the opposite end, a properly working pelvic floor with keep the anus closed and keep poop in until we are ready to go. If the pelvic floor muscles are not working properly, we might see leakage of poop or gas. On the other hand, the pelvic floor muscles may have difficulty doing the right thing at the right time and may engage and close off the anus if we are straining.
If you think your pelvic floor may not be doing the right thing at the right time, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you and teach you to train the muscles properly.
To learn more about how our bodies (and pelvic floors) poop, watch the video below.
To learn more about your pelvic floor muscles, check out these great resources:
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics
Watch our YouTube playlist on Bowel Health and Your Pelvic Floor
Check out our favorite pelvic health items on Amazon
Sign up for our email newsletter!
Find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT.
For providers, check our online courses to help your clients with pelvic floor dysfunction. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease with Dr. Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
Coccydynia Basics with Michelle Nesin, PT, FAAOMPT, OCS, FCFMT
Coccyx Basics Part 2 with Michelle Nesin, PT, FAAOMPT, OCS, FCFMT
Levator Ani Avulsions with Dr. Sarah Boyles, MD, MPH, FACOG, FPMRS and Jeanice Mitchell, PT, MPT, WCS, BCB-PMD
Pelvic PT Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles with Dr. Samantha Richter, PT, DPT, WCS
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT
1. Sherwood L. Human physiology: from cells to systems. 2015. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.