Splinting is a technique people may use to relieve constipation. It involves using a finger to press against the perineum or vaginal wall to help move a stool out of the rectum.

There is little scientific research into the effects of splinting for constipation, but people may use it to manage pelvic floor conditions that can affect bowel movements.

However, medical professionals may consider splinting a symptom of bowel problems rather than a treatment. For this reason, a person should contact a doctor if they feel they must use splinting to pass bowel movements.

This article looks at splinting, why people might use it, and other methods for relieving constipation.

A person washing their hands after splinting for constipation. -2Share on Pinterest
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Splinting is a technique people may use to help relieve constipation.

It involves placing a finger or hand on the perineum or buttocks, or in or around the vagina, to manually move stools toward the anus to make a bowel movement.

Some researchers describe the need to initiate splinting as a symptom of bowel or pelvic floor problems rather than a technique to relieve them.

For example, a person may feel they have to use splinting to push out a bowel movement if they have constipation.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor if they feel they need to use this method to evacuate stools. There is little evidence that this technique is effective, and a doctor will be able to recommend more appropriate therapies.

There is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of splinting for constipation.

Some older research from 2012 suggests that splinting may help support bowel emptying.

The small-scale study included 29 participants who had bowel function problems and reported using splinting to support bowel movements.

The study used an MRI to examine whether splinting affected the pelvic floor.

Researchers found that in 28 of the participants, splinting improved or completely corrected pelvic floor defects relating to bowel function.

As this was a small-scale, older study, the results may be unreliable. However, a more recent article from 2022 does posit that splinting may be helpful for people with pelvic floor dysfunction who have constipation.

In general, researchers consider splinting a symptom of bowel problems — such as fecal incontinence, constipation, or obstructive defecation (being unable to empty the bowels fully) — rather than a treatment for them.

The method for vaginal splinting involves inserting a finger or hand inside or around the vagina to encourage a bowel movement.

People may press against the back wall of the vagina to manually move a stool from the rectum to the anus.

Generally, it is best for someone to contact a healthcare professional if they have symptoms of constipation. A healthcare professional may recommend that a person try to treat it at home first.

A person may wish to consult a doctor if any of the following is true:

  • constipation does not resolve with self-treatment
  • they have a family history of rectal or colon cancer
  • they feel the need to use splinting

People will also need to contact a doctor if they have constipation with any of the following:

This section answers some frequently asked questions about splinting and constipation.

What is splinting for rectocele?

A rectocele is a bulging of the rectal wall into the vaginal wall. It may cause constipation.

Stools may get stuck where the rectum bulges, and people may need to use splinting in the area between the rectum and the vagina to release a stool.

A person should contact a doctor if they have symptoms of rectocele and feel the need to use splinting.

Is it OK to remove stool with a finger?

If people have fecal impaction, a healthcare professional may use a lubricated index finger to remove hard stool from the rectum manually. The medical term for this procedure is manual or digital disimpaction.

It is best if a person does not try this themselves and contacts a medical professional if they feel the need to do this.

How do you relieve severe constipation?

Treatments for severe constipation may include the following prescription medications:

Biofeedback therapy may also help treat chronic constipation. If there are issues with the muscles involved in bowel movements, biofeedback therapy can help retrain the muscles.

If other treatments are unsuccessful and people have an anorectal blockage due to rectal prolapse, they may need surgery.

If people have fecal impaction, which occurs due to hardened stools that cannot pass via bowel movements, treatment may include:

What is the best way to stimulate a bowel movement?

According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), the best stimulant for a bowel movement may vary among individuals.

In some people, a meal or hot drink may be enough to stimulate a bowel movement. In other cases, people may require:

  • suppositories
  • enemas
  • laxatives

It is best to use any of the above with the guidance of a healthcare professional. People can choose the least extreme form of stimulant that is effective for causing a bowel movement.

Other ways to help stimulate a bowel movement include:

Some people may use splinting to direct stool out of the rectum to make a bowel movement and relieve constipation. However, there is little evidence to support this technique for treating constipation.

If someone feels they must use splinting to pass a bowel movement, they should contact a doctor.

Better options for self-treatment for constipation may include increasing fiber intake, getting regular exercise, and eating high fiber foods.

People with severe constipation can contact a doctor, who may prescribe laxatives, enemas, or suppositories.