When you think about it, sex and constipation actually have quite a bit in common. They produce similar noises — from moans, to sighing, to fart sounds — and can involve a whole lot of pushing that ultimately gets you nowhere. But, sometimes, they end in a sweet release. So it almost makes sense that, somewhere along the way, people began to wonder whether having sex can help constipation (i.e., make themselves poop).
We don’t know who, how, where, or why this rumor started, but we decided it was time to get to the bottom of it. We asked many (many) medical experts, including gastroenterologists, OB-GYNs, and general practitioners — and the vast majority mostly ignored us. Others responded to our questions like “Does sex help constipation?” with a simple “no,” unwilling to explain further.
Eventually, two doctors did step up to weigh in, proving once again that not all heroes wear capes. So, does boning get your bowels moving or what? Here’s what to know.
Does sex help relieve constipation?
To clarify, there are many different types of sex — when it comes to both solo and with one or more partners. In this particular article, we’re focusing on penetrative sex. In other words, when an object (i.e., a finger, vibrator, strap-on, penis, etc.) goes into a pelvic opening (i.e., vagina or anus). Also, in this scenario, the constipated person has a vagina/vulva. OK, now we can proceed.
The answer? No, sex is not a treatment for constipation, nor does it help get your bowel moving, says Madathupalayam Madhankumar, MD, a surgical gastroenterologist at iCliniq. “Sex does not alleviate constipation,” Madhankumar tells Scary Mommy. “Although many believe having anal sex can increase bowel movements and relieve constipation, it is not a fact.” And he says that sex involving vaginal penetration won’t work either.
Plus, it’ll probably be pretty uncomfortable. “Constipation for more than two days can cause problems like bloating, pain, and cramps,” Madhankumar explains. “This is because there is a build-up of gas in the rectum. The vagina is located just in front of the rectum and sexual intercourse during those days of constipation pressurizes the vagina, which, in turn, pushes the rectum.”
Along the same lines, Waqas Mahmood, MD, a physician and medical health specialist at Healthwire, says that having sex won’t provide any constipation relief — though it’s “solely a matter of personal choice.” If you have your heart set on having sex for constipation relief, he suggests trying positions where the (constipated) person with a vagina is on top.
Is having sex while constipated a bad idea?
So, now that we know that having sex isn’t a cure for constipation, what about doing it for fun (or conception) while your digestive system is blocked up? Is it generally safe — albeit likely uncomfortable — for people with a vagina, or something to avoid until after you’ve pooped?
As you’ve probably figured out by now, it’s best to hold off on having penetrative sex while you’re constipated. Along with the built-up gas in the rectum that Madhankumar mentioned, Mahmood says that there’s also stool accumulation in both the colon and rectum. “For this very reason, it can be quite uncomfortable or can come along with pain and bloating,” he adds — especially when combined with the added pressure on the vaginal walls.
Lastly, both doctors pointed out that having sex while constipated can increase the chance of a person with a vagina developing urinary tract infections (UTI) or other vaginal infections. There is a simple reason for this, Mahmood says: “Bacteria from your stool can enter your vagina, anus, and reproductive tract” and can end up causing any number of pelvic infections.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of other ways to make yourself poop without risking the pain, discomfort, and potential infections that can result from having sex while constipated.
Madathupalayam Madhankumar, MD, a surgical gastroenterologist at iCliniq
Waqas Mahmood, MD, a physician and medical health specialist at Healthwire