Surprising causes of constipation

Constipation is a common problem. Constipation may result in hard, dry, and lumpy stools. Difficulty passing stools or incomplete bowel movements. It could mean having infrequent stools. (For some people, fewer than three bowel movements per week may be a sign of constipation.) ²,

You can get constipated for various reasons, some more surprising than others

Constipation It may be for one reason or multiple causes at once.

For example, it could be the result of partially digested food moving too slowly through the colon (the largest part of the large intestine). It is the colon’s job, in part, to remove water from waste. But if the transit of waste through the digestive system is slow, the colon can absorb too much water. Stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass in a bowel movement

Oftentimes, constipation is a sign of a bowel obstruction

Factors that may lead to constipation include use of certain supplements or medications, functional disorders, pregnancy, lifestyle factors, and even a change in routine.

Nutritional supplements

Dietary supplements are natural products that may include minerals, vitamins, herbs or probiotics. Studies show that some supplements, such as calcium, may cause constipation

If you experience constipation with calcium supplements, it may be helpful to spread the dose throughout the day or take it with food. It may also be helpful to change the type of calcium you take

Iron is another potential culprit. A 2021 review found that iron intake may cause a variety of symptoms, including constipation or diarrhea

Multivitamins contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, and some of these ingredients (such as calcium and iron) may cause constipation in some people.


Many medications can cause constipation as a side effect. Among them, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases singles out: ⁸

  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Some antidepressants
  • Antacids containing calcium or aluminum
  • diuretics
  • Medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease
  • Medicines used to prevent seizures (called anticonvulsants)
  • Medicines that relieve muscle spasms (antispasmodics or anticholinergics)


If you don’t eat enough whole grains, fruits, or vegetables, don’t be surprised if you have difficult or irregular bowel movements. A diet low in fiber can lead to constipation

Prepared and processed foods (which may include frozen meals, fast foods, and snacks) tend to be lower in fiber. If you’re already constipated, these might be foods to avoid or eat less

Drinking enough water is also important for maintaining regular bowel habits. People who do not drink enough fluids may experience constipation

irritable bowel syndrome

irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that can cause abdominal pain along with changes in bowel habits. Some people find that defecation relieves their colic pain. Others find it makes it worse

With irritable bowel syndrome, you could have constipation, diarrhea, or both. If your stools are mostly hard, you may have irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, or IBS. Some people have IBS with mixed bowel patterns – sometimes the stools are hard and sometimes they are loose.

It’s not clear what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but experts believe the relationship between the brain and the gut may play a role


Constipation is common in pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it may be more common towards the end of pregnancy.

One possible cause: high levels of hormones during pregnancy. These hormones can slow down the digestive process and relax the intestinal muscles, making you feel constipated. Another factor: uterine dilatation. Since this organ expands during pregnancy, it can put pressure on the intestines. This can slow down your bowel movement. ²

pelvic floor weakness

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs (including the bladder and rectum). When the muscles and tissues in the pelvic floor contract or relax inappropriately, it can be difficult for stool to pass.

Pelvic floor muscle retraining Through physical therapy can help with this

Changes in routine

Disruptions in your daily routine as well as changes over time can make you feel constipated. If your bowel habits change, consider possibilities like: ⁸

  • The effects of aging
  • Travel related changes
  • Meal-related changes (in other words, what you eat and how much you eat)
  • The effects of the drugs change

Lack of exercise

A sedentary lifestyle and not enough exercise can lead to constipation. Staying active is important when possible

Staying in bed or being inactive for long periods due to illness or recovery from surgery may also contribute to constipation. In this case, health care providers may prescribe medication to help prevent constipation

Many cases of constipation can be successfully treated at home Diet, increased fiber, fluids, and medicationssuch as laxatives or stool softeners

It may be a good idea to contact your healthcare provider if you are constipated and have symptoms such as: ³

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bloating
  • Not having a bowel movement in three days (which is unusual for you)
  • stomach pain
  • blood in stool

Many things can lead to constipation. Sometimes taking vitamins, nutritional supplements or other medications can cause discomfort. Other times, underlying medical conditions, pregnancy, life changes, or changes in your regular routine can lead to constipation. If you are uncomfortable or have worrisome symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help.


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