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Causes of Constipation

The article will delve into causes and complications of Constipation that you should be aware of.

  • 12 Oct 2023
  • 2 min read

Chronic constipation is a common condition where infrequent bowel movements or strained passage of stools persist for several weeks or longer, due to which a person is unable to empty the bowel. Constipation can affect individuals of all ages and can also cause the stools to be hard and lumpy, as well as unusually large or small, which varies from person to person. If a person has chronic constipation, it can cause chronic pain and discomfort and even affect quality of life. Key features that define constipation include dry and hard stool, painful bowel movements and having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Let us look at some of the causes of constipation:

How is Constipation Caused?

A person is said to be constipated when they pass waste or stool too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot empty the bowel from the rectum properly due to hard and dry stool. There are many reasons for constipation, including:

Blockages in the colon or rectum

Chronic constipation can block the colon or rectum due to slow stool movement, which can cause problems like:

  • Small tears in the skin surrounding the anus cause a condition; anal fissure
  • Bowel obstruction due to blockage in the intestine.
  • Colon cancer
  • Narrowing of the colon
  • Rectal cancer
  • Rectocele, where the rectum bulges through the back wall of the vagina
  • Narrowing of nerves around the colon and rectum

Chronic constipation can cause some neurological problems, which can affect the nerves and muscles present in the colon and rectum to contract resulting in moving stool away slowly through the intestines. This condition can cause:

  • Autonomic neuropathy in which nerves that control bodily functions get damaged
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke

Difficulty with the muscles involved in elimination

In some cases, the pelvic muscles involved in bowel movements may result in chronic constipation due to some impairment in the muscles. These problems may include:

  • Anismus is the condition where pelvic muscles are not relaxed to allow for a bowel movement
  • Dyssynergia- It is the condition that occurs when the pelvic muscles don't coordinate relaxation and contraction correctly.
  • In the case of weak pelvic muscles.

Conditions that affect hormones in the body

Whenever there is a hormonal imbalance in the body due to certain conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, pregnancy or hypothyroidism, it can lead to constipation.

Other factors that may increase the risk of chronic constipation include:

  • If a person is above the age of 50 years
  • In the case of pregnant women, due to hormonal imbalance
  • Being dehydrated
  • When a person is not eating a diet that's rich in fibre
  • In case of zero physical activity involvement in routine life
  • Taking certain medications like some anti-depressants, medicines related to blood pressure, or painkillers
  • If a person is facing some mental health condition like depression


Constipation is a very common problem worldwide that affects a patient’s daily life. There are several preventable ways to minimize the risk factors like changing food habit and personal habits like caffeine abuse, medication etc. that causes constipation. Understanding the causes of constipation and taking care of these factors can play an important role in minimizing their effects, which in turn minimizes the socioeconomic burden of constipation significantly. Apart from this, early diagnosis and seeking medical attention to manage the other existing factors are important to give relief to the patient from undue physical and psychological stress.

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