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Hard to Poop? Common Causes for Constipation

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Not your typical constipation

For roughly 15 years, Mary took laxatives or would drink senna tea to treat her chronic constipation. Even with the use of medications and supplements she only managed to have a bowel movement (with great difficulty) on some days.

Mary was only 42 years old and sought help from various practitioners for her problem, but was always offered laxatives and told to eat more fiber or drink more fluids, which often left her feeling bloated and uncomfortable.  Even light meals would often cause problems.

Most everyone has suffered from constipation at some point in life. Constipation is so common that after some time people come to accept it as a part of their lives and stop seeking a solution.

Chronic constipation that is not relieved by the use of over-the-counter or even prescription medications with the use of fiber, is often due to an underlying pelvic floor dysfunction.  The pelvic floor consists of muscles that form a sling-like structure.  This structure, together with connecting tissues, holds up or supports the organs above the pelvis such as the rectum, bladder, and uterus (in females).

During a bowel movement, the pelvic floor muscles must relax while the muscles of the abdomen contract to push stool through the lowest portion of the large intestine.  This process is a coordinated effort between different muscles, but sometimes the contractions are not in sync, meaning the pelvic floor muscles are contracting when they should be relaxing, this can lead to difficult bowel movements. Chronic constipation can be due to a weakness of the pelvic floor and can occur at any age.

Common causes of constipation

Besides having a pelvic floor dysfunction, there are other causes that can cause constipation including:

  • Drinking too little water
  • Too much or too little fiber
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Chronic Stress
  • Medical conditions such as depression and eating disorders
  • Side effects from medication or iron supplementation
  • Food sensitivities
  • Pregnancy

Related problems

A weakness in the pelvic floor can also lead to other problems, such as urinary incontinence and uterine prolapse. Dr. Schulz treats pelvic floor dysfunction and other potential causes of chronic constipation.

What is Normal?

Normal is 1-3 bowel movements per day that are easy to pass and well-formed.


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