Understand constipation, and its causes and symptoms.



Constipation is when your stool (poo) becomes hard, dry, and difficult to eliminate from your body. It is common digestive problem and is generally described as having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week. If it persists for longer, and causes you to strain excessively, it is considered chronic constipation.


Sometimes there’s no obvious reason for constipation, but the most common causes include:

  • Diet low in fibre (not eating enough fruits, vegetables and cereals)
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Side effect of certain medications or supplements (opioids, antacids, antidepressants, overuse of laxatives)
  • Ignoring the urge to go to the toilet
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy and 6 weeks after giving birth


The most common, and likely, symptoms of constipation are:

  • Not having a bowel movement (poo) at least 3 times during the last week
  • Your poo is large and dry, hard, or lumpy
  • You strain or in pain when you try to poo

Some other symptoms to look out for are:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Stomach ache
  • Feeling like your bowel isn’t totally empty
  • Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum
  • Needing to use force, such as your hands to press on your abdomen

If you’ve experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months, you may have chronic constipation.

PillSorted is an NHS full-service pharmacy that delivers.