Nobody likes talking about what happens in the bathroom, but frankly, more of us should. Everybody poops, and the details of your personal poop protocol (let’s just shorten that to PPP), can point to health-related problems and concerns.
I’m about to get real honest about my own PPP, so if you’re not interested in the details, you might want to just skip down to the bottom of this post. If you do want to be a fly on the wall in my bathroom (weird), here’s the short version:
I have IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It just sounds terrible, am I right? Can we get a less embarrassing name for this thing, like… Brown Syndrome or something? Still descriptive, but flies under the radar a bit.
Anyway, I suspect my bathroom habits haven’t been entirely normal for years – possibly as many as eight or 10 years, although it’s hard to pinpoint when they might’ve started. I do know I noticed them getting considerably worse about five years ago after I had an IUD put in. Now, I’m not saying the IUD led to IBS or anything like that, but I’m ridiculously sensitive to hormonal birth controls – I’ve tried all of them and they all screw me up – so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that perhaps the slight alteration in hormone levels led to changes in my bowel habits.
All I know is I became miserably bloated after having the IUD inserted. This was followed by bouts of constipation followed by something I’ll call “almost diarrhea” – like a soft serve-style poo. (Sorry you read this part yet?)
Even though I felt bad much of the time, I worked from home and my PPP didn’t interfere with my day-to-day life. I eventually had the IUD removed, which did help with the bloating for a while, but the bathroom problems continued.
The slow-burn of ever-worsening symptoms and my treatment attempts
I started cutting out foods I thought might be contributing to the problem. First a specific bread, then black beans, then onions and Brussels sprouts. Despite my more restrictive diet, I found more foods were leading to extreme bloating and gas.
This all came to a head in early February of 2016. I don’t know exactly what kicked it off, but I suspect it was two weekends in a row I spent traveling. Both weekends I enjoyed a wide array of foods that, while incredibly healthy, were a change from my typical fare.
The week following my second weekend away, all hell broke loose in the bathroom. I found myself experiencing cascading waterfall-style diarrhea between three and seven times a day. Yes, seven.
At first, I thought I’d picked up a stomach bug, but this pattern went on for two months.
Yes, two months.
On month two I cut out all gluten and went on a low FODMAP diet. It helped some, but not substantially.
My main concern at this point was that I might have Celiac Disease. My maternal grandmother had it, as well as several extended family members on the same side of the family, so I was worried my symptoms might point to the condition. I went to a gastroenterologist and because of my fairly extreme symptoms and family history, they suggested I undergo a colonoscopy and endoscopy to rule out Celiac in addition to other serious conditions, including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
So I went under the scope (lovely process, by the way), and came out with a clean intestinal tract.
Nothing obviously wrong – yay! But still no explanation for my symptoms.
Which led my gastroenterologist back to the blanket statement for otherwise undiagnosed intestinal conditions – IBS. In case you’re not familiar, IBS is a serious GI issue that affects the large intestine and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation; there is no cure or known cause for IBS.
Womp-womp. It’s kind of brutal.
I did a lot of reading and decided to self-treat as best I could by focusing on consuming low-FODMAP foods (about 75-percent of IBS sufferers see improvement in symptoms on a low-FODMAP diet) and trying a probiotic. It helped some. The waterfall diarrhea has dissipated, but as a whole, my PPP is still not normal. It varies from constipation to diarrhea and when I have gas, it’s bad. Like, clear a stadium bad.
Which brings me to the VSL#3: The Journey Back Challenge
Let me be clear: I want to feel better. I would love to have normal and predictable poos. So far I’m coming up empty-handed, so when I was approached to try VSL#3, I figured – “Hey, what do I have to lose?” Literally, nothing.
You see, VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food that is clinically proven in the dietary management of the serious digestive issues IBS, ulcerative colitis (UC) and ileal pouch. In fact, VSL#3 – and only VSL#3 – has been the subject of a collection of more than 170 studies and published in peer-reviewed journals over the past 15 years. And most importantly to me, VSL#3 has been clinically demonstrated to reduce bloating/gassiness and discomfort in patients with IBS.
In other words, taking a probiotic medical food, instead of a run-of-the-mill probiotic, just might be what I need to start really managing my IBS symptoms.
The big difference between basic probiotics and VSL#3
If you think all probiotics are created equal, you’re not alone. According to a Harris Poll* conducted on behalf of VSL#3, nearly half (46-percent) of the 607 surveyed adults who have been diagnosed with IBS, UC or ileal pouch, believe all probiotics are pretty much the same.
What’s unique about VSL#3 is that the probiotic medical food has a minimum of 112.5 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) in each serving. That blows the suggested one billion CFUs suggested for adults to consume daily out of the water by at least 112.5 times. That’s a lot of CFUs. If gut bacteria are out of whack, I can see how throwing a whole lot more of the good strains into the mix might help your GI find its way back to a healthy equilibrium.
So we’ll see.
The Journey Back Plan
I’ll start taking my VSL#3 today, and I’ll take it every day for the next three weeks before reporting back on my progress. Look for updates on social media by following the hashtag #VSL3TheJourneyBack.
It’s important to note that VSL#3, as a medical food, does cost more than your basic probiotic. The good news is you can ask your healthcare professional for a VSL#3 Patient Savings card to save up to $80 each month on the purchase of VSL#3 products – the largest savings ever offered for VSL#3 and VSL#3 DS. Visit https://www.vsl3ds.com?fb=1 for more information and talk with your healthcare provider so you can take part in the savings program. You can also join VSL#3 on Facebook for giveaways and exclusive offers. For more information on VSL#3 please visit www.vsl3.com.
Do you have GI problems? Share in the comments!
You may also want to:
- Check out VSL#3’s series of videos including helpful info about managing IBS & UC at www.youtube.com/user/VSL3Probiotic
- Try delicious low-FODMAP, IBS-friendly recipes from http://www.vsl3.com/discover/ibs-friendly-recipes/
*Harris Poll conducted the GI Issues Survey on behalf of VSL#3. The survey was administered online within the United States between April 1 – 7, 2015 among 607 adult’s ages 18+ who have been diagnosed with a digestive or gastrointestinal condition, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis, ileal pouch (“sufferers”).
VSL#3® is a high-potency probiotic medical food that’s clinically proven in the dietary management of IBS, ulcerative colitis, and ileal pouch. To learn more visit www.vsl3.com and LIKE the brand on Facebook.
This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food for the dietary management of IBS, UC and ileal pouch and must be used under medical supervision. Please speak with your healthcare provider for any specific questions. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.