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Dr. Chip
Dr. Chip, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 32717
Experience:  20 yrs. in practice, includinge surgery, general medicine, addiction medicine and pain.
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This question is on behalf of my wife, whom I met while posted

Resolved Question:

This question is on behalf of my wife, whom I met while posted in the Philippines by my employer. We married there, but I have been back in Europe with her for almost two years. Although she still cooks Filipino food sometimes, since arriving here she has adopted a more western diet. This, and perhaps other environmental factors, seems to have had a negative effect on her digestive system.
When we lived in Asia, her bowel movements were regular and effortless. Now they are irregular, less frequent, and her stools are much larger and harder. Occasionally she has an easy bowel movement; but most times she seems to struggle to pass big, difficult stools, and it can take her several minutes to pass a single one.
About three weeks ago, I came home one day and heard her crying in the bathroom, where I found her sitting on the toilet in some distress. She was trying to pass a hard stool that was so large in diameter that it had become stuck fast in her anus and she could not move it further. She had been in that situation for some minutes before I arrived, and it was very painful. I felt rather helpless, being able only to try to calm and comfort her, while at the same time encouraging her to redouble her efforts to push the stool out. Eventually she succeeded, but afterwards she was sore, exhausted and upset.
Today she asked me to accompany her to the bathroom, because despite trying she had not been able to move her bowels for 4-5 days, and feared a repetition of the events a few weeks ago. She did indeed have to pass one very big stool followed by a few smaller ones, but thankfully did not have the same problem this time.
She is reluctant to see our doctor about this mainly because she is embarrassed to discuss it, and she keeps saying her system will adjust but I see no sign of that.
What advice can you offer? Obviously, elimination of the problem is the ultimate objective, but while it exists, is there anything that can be done to ease the passage of her stools?
She is 27 years old, has no health problems and is on no medication, she is physically fit and active, she is neither over- nor under-weight, she does not smoke or drink alcohol, and she does drink a lot of water (by itself and in tea and coffee).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 2 years ago.
Hi. It sounds as though part of the problem may be the change in her diet but now it sounds as though she may have a fecal impaction--a mass of hard stool in her colon that is still allowing some stool to pass. I'm reluctant to advise a laxative here although she could try some virgin olive oil or mineral oil along with plenty of fluids, but the best thing for her to do is to tell her doctor about this, get an exam and x-rays of the abdomen to look for an impaction, and, if she has one her doctor might give her a prescription for a bowel cleanser like GoLytely. That said, if that isn't effective, she'd need a colonoscopy to remove the impaction
Dr. Chip and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you. Your reply will help to convince her to see our own doctor, especially if there is a possibility of an impaction, which sounds quite serious. Being an engineer and not a doctor(!) I simply would not have thought of that because it struck me that the problem isn't the overall amount of stool that she passes, but rather that she does so with lower frequency and in fairly massive stools. Thanks again.

Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 2 years ago.
My pleasure entirely but let me know how it goes and please remember to rate my service to you