Under normal circumstances, defecation is completed by adopting a suitable posture, contracting the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, and relaxing the puborectalis and external anal sphincter muscles.
Pelvic floor dysfunction, or obstructed defecation, results when the external anal sphincter and/or puborectalis muscles do not relax appropriately when defecation is initiated. People with pelvic floor dysfunction strain excessively in a feeble attempt to eliminate stool from the rectum.
With biofeedback therapy, specialists teach the patient how to coordinate the use of the abdominal muscles with the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor retraining improves symptoms in approximately 70 percent of patients. Patients learn to coordinate abdominal and pelvic floor muscles during pelvic floor retraining. This type of retraining is more extensive than Kegel's exercises which are used as exercise for other conditions such as urinary incontinence.
Doctors may also suggest a high-fiber diet or medications to help soften stool.
Surgery is only considered in the most severe cases which are not helped by retraining. In these instances, an artifical opening (stoma) is created in the abdomen for removal of wastes.