Constipation is most often defined as having a bowel movement less than 3 times per week, and is usually is associated with hard stools or difficulty passing stools.


  • Low-fiber diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Delay in going to the bathroom when you have the urge to move your bowels
  • Stress and travel

Risk Factors

  • Poor diet or sedentary lifestyle
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medication
  • Under-active thyroid
  • Colon cancer
  • Bowel, neurological or mental health disorders/diseases


  • Difficulty or pain passing stools
  • Hard stools
  • Less than 3 bowel movements per week
  • Inability to have a bowel movement after straining/pushing for more than 10 minutes

Diagnostic Tests

  • Physical exam, often including a rectal exam


Treatment includes the addition of fiber to the diet, including vegetables, fresh fruits, dried fruits, whole wheat, bran, or oatmeal cereals. To reap the benefits of fiber, drink plenty of fluids to help pass the stool.