Getting to bottom of it
WE don’t generally talk about our bowel movements – the idea is kind of ‘poo-pooed’ – but Dr Michael Levitt would like to change that.
The Subiaco surgeon of St John of God is bringing the topic into the limelight with his newly released book; his third on the topic of bowels and bowel function.
“Although some people have intractable difficulties with their bowels, almost everyone on the planet experiences, from time to time, some complaint about their bowels – too hard, too soft, too long, no warning, leakage – you name it,” Dr Levitt said.
“So I think that the vast majority of people will find something both helpful and reassuring in The Happy Bowel.”
Dr Levitt said the biggest misconception people had about their bowels was that they should work properly.
“It’s as if we think we have a constitutional right to a spontaneous daily bowel action and as if a wellchosen diet will somehow ‘dial up’ a perfect bowel habit in anyone and everyone,” he said.
“But the truth is that everyone’s bowels work differently and many people’s bowels malfunction despite every dietary and lifestyle effort to control them.
“Just like every other bodily system – like those that regulate our blood pressure or our blood sugar levels or our airways or our joints – our bowels are also prone to go awry through absolutely no fault of our own.”
He said the most common problems people faced with their bowels depended on gender.
“Women are prone to sluggish bowels and commonly experience constipation, bloating, difficulty with evacuation and the need to take laxatives,” the surgeon said.
“Men on the other hand, are prone to softer and faster-moving bowel motions, leaving them prone to lengthy trips to the toilet due to difficulty completing evacuation, lengthy wiping up after defecation, soiling, itching and haemorrhoids.”
So what’s one thing every person can do to improve their bowel movement?
“We should all strive to reach the bathroom when (and only when) we have a full-blooded urge to go,” Dr Levitt said.
“Delaying any trip to the bathroom until we have a genuine and powerful urge to go is the single most effective step that we can take to enable a bowel action that will be truly satisfying – one that is prompt, effortless, brief and complete.”
The Happy Bowel is published through Fremantle Press.
Dr Michael Levitt of St John of God.