What Causes Constipation

constipated manWhen you suffer from constipation, understanding the cause of it can help you to choose the best possible treatment options. You can break down constipation causes into two types of categories. First you have problems that are due to lifestyle such as diet and exercise.

The second category for includes problems related to medical issues such as hormonal changes, medications you’re taking, or other bowel disease. The first category of causes can be simple to treat when you make a few changes to your style of living while the second category may require more intervention.

Lifestyle Factors

lifestyleWhen it comes to your lifestyle, many of the things you do affect your ability to have regular bowel movements. One of the most important considerations is how much fiber you get in your diet. Fiber is essential to helping you have regular bowel movements.

Not enough fiber in your diet

Fiber is a material that your body can’t actually digest. It helps you to form your bowel movement and keeps your digestion running smoothly. One of the top causes for constipation is a diet that’s low in fiber.

Fiber comes from whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. If your diet isn’t high in these you may find that you suffer from slow digestion leading to constipation. Another lifestyle factor that may affect your digestive system is water intake. Many drink more soda, coffee, and tea than water.  These factors contribute to most of the problems with constipation in the Western world.

Not drinking enough water each day

You need to consume at least eight glasses of water each day and not drinking enough is a major cause of constipation. So it’s important to pay attention to how much water you’re drinking – or not drinking – and make improvements if needed.

An increase in stress or chronic stress

If you have a very stressful lifestyle, it can also lead to problems with constipation and can leave you feeling even more stressed. Other causes of constipation can be changes in your normal routine, your diet, or even frequent travel. And if you tend to hold in your bowel movements a lot, you may actually cause your digestive system to slow down.

Lack of exercise

Exercise is also necessary for having proper digestion. Moving your body quite literally helps your body to move food through your system. If you’re experiencing constipation and you’re also a couch potato, you should think about making changes to that routine.

These lifestyle factors are to blame for the majority of cases of constipation. If you’re suffering from problems with your bowels, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your lifestyle and see if there’s something that you’re doing or not doing that is the cause of constipation for you.

But if you feel like your lifestyle is pretty healthy, it may be that you have other causes for constipation in your situation.

Medical Issues Related to Constipation

medical pillsThere are several medical issues that could lead to slow digestion and ultimately to constipation. You may have food allergies or intolerance that are causing you to have difficulty with regular bowel movements.

Eating and drinking dairy products

Sensitivities to dairy and gluten are often culprits when it comes to what causes constipation. You may also have an underlying health condition such as diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome that makes digestion irregular.

Neurological disorders or poor muscle function in the intestines

Some diseases such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy can cause you to have problems with the nerves of your intestines. They can keep you from being able to experience regular digestion. If your thyroid is not performing properly, it can also slow your bowels.

Prescription medications

If you take medications, you may find that constipation can be a side effect. Over the counter medications such as antacids and laxatives can cause you to have problems with regular digestion. Anti-diarrhea medications can also cause constipation if used too often.

And many prescription medications can interfere with your bowels. If you’re taking a prescription medication that’s causing constipation, you should talk with your doctor about possible options.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can also be responsible for your constipation. During pregnancy, many women experience problems with constipation. This can be a result of hormone changes as well as prenatal vitamins.

And as you age, your hormones naturally decrease which can lead to problems with slower digestion and cause constipation. These changes are natural, but you’ll find there are solutions to help you have regular digestion as you age.


While most people who experience constipation find it to be a simple problem to cure, there are times when constipation is the result of serious medical conditions. For example, a bowel obstruction can cause constipation and might need surgical intervention.

And while it’s rare, constipation can also be the result of serious illness such as colon cancer. It’s important not to ignore problems with constipation in case you do have a medical condition that requires medical intervention.

Once you get to the bottom of the cause of your constipation, you’ll be able to make decisions about what to do next. For some people a simple lifestyle change can bring relief while other need to take more serious measures to intervene.

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