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Reduced Constipation May Help Women's Pelvic Floor

Short regimen of high-fiber cereal reduces constipation symptoms in women

THURSDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- A 42-day course of gradually increasing fiber intake improved constipation symptoms in women, which may reduce their risk for pelvic organ prolapse, according to research published in the April issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Amir Shariati, M.D., of Indiana University in Indianapolis, and colleagues analyzed data from 41 women, median age 60 years, who presented to a pelvic floor disorder facility and met the Rome II criteria for constipation. The researchers provided high-fiber cereal and instructed subjects to work their way up to eating a cup a day (28 grams of fiber) over a month, with additional suggestions to increase water and decrease caffeine intake.

Thirty subjects completed the study, the researchers report. Their average Rome II scores improved during the study period, as did symptoms measured by a constipation questionnaire. Average daily caffeine intake decreased from 30.5 ounces to 9.1 ounces, though water intake remained essentially unchanged. Weekly laxative use dropped from 2.8 to 1.4 occasions, and episodes of vaginal or perineal splinting dropped from 1.5 to 0.67, the report indicates.

"Participants in both groups improved significantly whether they had a rectocele or not. The patients with rectocele showed more clinical improvement during the study period. This would indicate that patients with a rectocele should first be treated with fiber and if their symptoms do not improve significantly, then consideration should be given to surgical intervention for the correction of the rectocele. Larger series of patients with different stages of rectocele need to be performed to better evaluate these findings," the authors write.

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