Few people like to talk about matters of the bathroom, but when it comes to constipation, it’s something most people understand all too well. As many as 80 percent of people will experience constipation at some point in their lives.
Here are eight common reasons you can’t poop and how to fix them.
8. You’re not eating enough fiber.
About a third of people who have constipation are dealing with “low-fiber constipation,” Gina Sam, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center, tells BuzzFeed Life. Start eating four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and see if that gets things moving again.
7. You’re dehydrated.
“You basically need water in order for your stool to move through the colon,” Sam says. When you don’t drink enough water, that can back you up. If you’re dealing with constipation, Sam says you should try to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day, and see if that helps a bit.
6. You might have a health condition, like thyroid disorder, or diabetes.
Another subtype of constipation is called “slow transit constipation,” Sam says, “and that’s basically where your colon is just moving slower — it has a slower contraction time.” Slower contraction times can really gum up the works. Certain health conditions can cause slow transit constipation — Sam named thyroid disease and diabetes as two examples. If you have constipation that doesn’t seem to be helped by any of these tips in this story, you should definitely go to a doctor to get checked out.
5. You’re taking narcotics.
Certain medicines can cause slow transit constipation, and narcotics are definitely on that list. Narcotics are typically opioid pain relievers, like Codeine, Morphine, Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Demerol, and others. If your doctor-prescribed narcotics are giving you constipation, talk to your doctor about ways to help alleviate the issue. (And if you’re taking narcotics illegally… stop doing that, and not just because of your constipation. It’s incredibly dangerous to take these drugs unsupervised.)
4. You recently took medicine for an upset stomach.
Like Immodium, or Pepto Bismol. These meds are meant to calm your stomach and stop diarrhea, but they can have the effect of blocking you up, too. Too much of a good thing.
3. You’re in a rush to get out the door in the morning.
Outlet disfunction is the third subtype of constipation, Sam says. “In that subtype, patients may have confused their muscles in the rectum and the anus, and basically caused something called pelvic floor disfunction, where instead of relaxing their anal sphincter, they squeeze it,” she says.
The big cause of this has to do with lifestyle factors — like rushing out the door every morning before you give yourself time to do your business. Our bodies are primed to poop in the morning, thanks in part to cortisol levels, Sam says. “But if people are rushing out the door or not taking time to go to the bathroom, they can get their muscles all confused,” she says. “They don’t use it, and they forget how to relax their sphincter.” This confusion can make it much harder to poop later on in the day.
2. You’re too shy to go in public, when the urge strikes.
Another thing that can cause muscle confusion is when you feel like you have to go, and then you hold it in. Looking at you, people who refuse to poop in public bathrooms at all costs. Sometimes those costs = constipation, due to confused anal sphincters.
1. You’re a sedentary creature.
“Moving around helps your colon move,” Sam says. So being inactive can exacerbate constipation. Stay regular by making sure you’re getting exercise on a regular basis.