Let’s not tiptoe around this: Being constipated is miserable—the pain, the bloating, the feeling that you can’t possibly fit anything else into your stomach.
Luckily, you’re not alone (misery loves company, right?). About 16 percent of adults have symptoms of constipation—and women are more likely to have it than men, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Just so I’m clear, what is constipation?
Constipation is when your bowel movements, (a.k.a. poop) are hard and lumpy, painful or difficult to pass, and/or you’re unable to go more than three days a week.
And while it’s not medically important to have a bowel movement every single day, it can still be pretty damn uncomfortable if you don’t.
Here are a few common constipation culprits—and how to remedy them to make things move a little more smoothly down there.
You’ve fallen off the exercise wagon.
Changing what your body is used to can affect various systems in your body, including making your intestines process food differently.
You’re super stressed out.
Stress or lack of sleep (or both, since they are so often linked) can influence your enteric nervous system, which can make you backed up.
You’re taking pain medication.
If you just had surgery or you’re on long-term pain medication, this might be causing you to feel stopped up.
Popping a few ibuprofen for soreness shouldn’t affect your regularity, though. If you’re having this issue, talk to your doctor to see if they can prescribe a stool softener to take in conjunction with your meds.
You’re not drinking enough water.
Good hydration may be the key to easing your constipation—and it’s especially important to be sure you’re getting plenty of liquids if you’re eating a high-fibre diet.
Although many women experience constipation early on in pregnancy, some deal with it for most of (if not all of) the nine months.
If you’re pregnant and feeling particularly blocked, keep track of when you’re feeling the worst then consider cutting those out (or at least cutting way back on them).
Avoiding constipation-triggering foods can help keep you comfortable throughout your pregnancy.
You have a chronic condition like IBS.
If your constipation is persistent and accompanied by pain, head to a gastroenterologist. They may diagnose you with a digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome.
If you suspect you have IBS, don’t try every OTC remedy on the shelves; instead, head to a doctor who specializes in Gastroenterology. They can get to the root of the problem sooner and create a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
You’re holding it in.
Don’t resist the urge to poop–seriously. In fact, it’s healthy to have a bowel movement at about the same time (or times) every day.