The Constipation Trick Splinting Went Viral on Tiktok — But Does It Provide Relief?

It sounds simple, but you may want to read what a doctor has to say before giving this trend a try.

It's hard to be shocked by the trends that end up going viral on TikTok, but when people on the 'Tok started talking about a, err, handy way of relieving constipation by way of the vagina the surprise factor went through the roof.

ICYMI, "splinting" became a viral sensation in 2021 after TikTok user @ambriaalicewalterfield shared a clip inviting followers to give her "one reason you're happy to have a vagina." She continued: "I'll go first. You know when you're [sitting] on the toilet and you're struggling to go for a P-O-O?" She then wiggles her thumb to the camera, saying "But then you're just like [push thumb forward] and then it's fine."

Understandably, her followers had many questions, wondering what on earth she was talking about. So, she shared a follow-up video in which she describes sticking her thumb inside her vagina, where she can feel the poop through her vaginal wall — or, in her words, "turtling" — and then makes a "pop" sound, saying "you just then pop it out." Meaning she uses her thumb to physically push her stool out of her butt.

Before we go into detail on the splinting technique, let’s first address the most important issues: What is constipation and what causes it?

What Is Constipation?

Constipation is infrequent and/or painful bowel movements. If you find yourself sitting on the toilet for a long time but are unable to poop, you may be constipated. If you're having bowel movements that are hard and uncomfortable to pass, you’re probably constipated. Serious symptoms of constipation can also include abdominal pain and blood in the stool. If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your doctor ASAP.

Several things can cause constipation. Not drinking enough liquids, lack of fiber, and certain medications or supplements (these side effects will usually be indicated on the bottle) can be the culprit, but it can also be the result of something simple, like a change in your routine.

What Is Splinting?

Splinting is a technique used to relieve constipation by inserting a finger (or thumb) into the vagina. Once inserted, the finger is pressed against the back wall of the vagina to help ease the stool out. In some cases, you may feel a bulge in the back wall of the vagina where you would gently press.

While this may not sound like a scientific way of relieving constipation, believe it or not, it's actually pretty legit. This thumb-in-vag trick is a medically-approved method of easing constipation. The University of Michigan Health System notes that clean, lubricated fingers or a new tampon can be used to help push stool from the anal canal. But before you book it to the bathroom for a little DIY, you're going to want to hear what a doctor has to say.

tiktok "splinting" constipation trend
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Does Splinting Pose Any Risks?

The technique isn't "dangerous," says Felice Gersh, M.D., an ob-gyn, founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, CA, and the author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track. But she doesn't recommend trying it, especially if you're experiencing frequent issues going to the bathroom with ease. Feeling like you need to stick your thumb up your vagina to manually defecate can show a "blatant red flag of bowel dysfunction," and there are much safer and healthier ways of managing constipation, according to Dr. Gersh.

Alternative Methods of Managing Constipation

Reworking your diet can help get your system back on track and relieve constipation. How many veggies are you eating? What about whole grains? Drinking enough water? Whatever the case may be, "including more plant-based fibers such as root vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, as well as probiotics or fermented foods" can be "very helpful," says Dr. Gersh. And while you're at it, make sure to stay hydrated (at least 8 cups of water a day) and move your body, as regular physical activity can help speed up how quickly food moves through your body. All that being said, if you've been dealing with any sort of digestive problems including stomach pain, excessive gas, and constipation, especially for a prolonged period of time, you should check in with your doctor, as they can be signs of a more serious underlying digestive condition, explains Dr. Gersh.

TikTok can be a great (and low-key addictive) resource for all kinds of topics, from skin care to mess-free snack wraps. But you definitely want to stick to getting your medical advice from a doctor or licensed health care professional when it comes to medical-related lessons on the app — when in doubt, it never hurts to check in with your own doctor, too.

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