Constipation is more common in women. It is not entirely understood why but it is thought that women suffer with constipation almost three times more often than men.
There is no set number of times a day or week that you should have a bowel movement, everyone is different in their make up and metabolism. For some people going a number of times a day will be normal whereas in others it may only be once or twice a week.
The important thing to remember is that constipation is a change in your normal frequency of bowel movements.
Constipation is not normally anything to worry about – most people will likely experience it at some point in their life and will find it easy to treat using the methods mention above in ‘Treatments’.
Constipation, however, can become a serious issue if it is persistent or you have been unable to pass a bowel movement in over 7 days. If this is the case you should see you doctor for investigation and treatment.
Yes, diet is the most common cause of constipation. Constipation can potentially be caused by too much or too little fibre in the diet. A balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and wholegrain products will give you adequate fibre to keep your bowels healthy – you should aim for around 18g of fibre a day.
Ensuring you stay properly hydrated will also help to keep your stools soft and easy to pass.
No not at all, constipation is common in pregnancy – it is thought to affect around 40% of pregnant women. It is normally due to a number of causes including changing hormones, the positioning of the baby and iron supplements.
Most cases of constipation are short-lived and can be managed by adhering to the lifestyle advice detailed in ‘Prevention’ above. Failing lifestyle changes, gentler laxatives such as Fybogel, Movicol or Lactulose may provide relief.
Yes, laxatives are perfectly safe to use if they are used occasionally following the manufacturer’s directions. Irregular use for a few days at a time to help resolve occasional constipation is no problem and will not be ‘habit-forming’ as commonly perceived.
If constipation is frequent or problematic then it is not advised to continually self-treat – frequent or persistent constipation can be a sign of an underlying condition and needs to be investigated by a doctor.
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