A random TikTok user posted a short clip on the platform, explaining that when she's constipated, she sticks her thumb inside her vagina while on the toilet and is able to feel the poop through her vaginal wall, and push it out of her butt.
I told you it wasn't for the faint-hearted.
She said she does this when the poop is "turtling" — AKA, on the verge of coming out of her butthole — and she's able to "pop" it out.
Probably the most interesting part of it all, aside from the fact that it's actually possible, was the heap of comments from women who have been using this "technique" for a while now!
In order to figure out if this was actually a thing, and how safe it is to do, Buzfeed reached out to Dr. Jennifer Lincoln — a Portland-based gynecologist — for a medical perspective. It turns out that this method has an actual name: It's called "splinting."
While splinting can be helpful in relieving constipation, Dr. Lincoln said she would not recommend doing this routinely. "If people need to splint frequently in order to empty their bowels, that is a sign that they should chat with their doctor to see how to better manage constipation and rule out any pelvic prolapse," she said.
Dr. Lincoln said if you do decide to splint, "just be sure your hands are clean, and stop if something hurts!"
So there you have it.
What is splinting?
The terms is used to describe a procedure in which a woman uses her fingers to press on the vagina as a way to try to evacuate stool during the process of a bowel movement.
How do you do it?
Start by washing your hands. Then Lubricate your finger (you can also try using a tampon).
Instert one or two fingers into your vagina, and softly but firmly press back against the anus. This should help push the stop in your anal canal out.
What are the risks?
There are various health conditions that increase the risk of vaginal splinting. These include:
- Cystocele: bulging of the bladder into the vagina
- Dyssynergic defecation: dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles
- Enterocele: bulging of the small bowel into the vagina and the rectum
- Rectocele: bulging of the wall of the rectum into the vagina3
Is there any research to back it?
One study saw twenty-nine women attempt splinting alongside use of a dynamic MRI. The researchers were trying to assess what the problems were with the pelvic anatomy of the women, and what effect the splinting behaviour had on these identified problems.
The results indicated that just under 60% used vaginal splinting, while a little under one-third used the area of the perineum, and the remaining 10% manipulated the buttocks area.
With the exception of one participant, the splinting behaviour was successful in either partially or fully correcting the underlying anatomical defect.
Should you discuss it with your doctor?
Absolutely. If you need to use your fingers in order to facilitate stool emptying, it is important that you bring this to your doctor's attention. There are a bunch of other methods that are less invasive and just as effective.