Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty in passing stools. Learn more about the condition, its diagnosis and the different treatment options available.

The first option for treating functional constipation focuses on diet and lifestyle changes:

  • Take the time to go to the bathroom every day, if possible at the same time and as soon as you feel the need;
  • Eat a balanced diet that is rich in fiber: green vegetables (Brussels sprouts and broccoli, for example), legumes and pulse (white beans, peas, lentils, fruit (pears, apples, dried fruits – prunes, figs and dates), whole grains (whole wheat, bulgur wheat, corn, spelt, flaxseed).
  • Stay hydrated. Magnesium-rich mineral water can help.

It may be necessary to take laxatives occasionally as needed:

  • osmotics soften and increase the volume of stools by helping fluid move through the colon;
  • bulk-forming laxatives act on the volume and consistency of stools;
  • lubricants help the stools to move through the colon more easily;
  • stimulants accelerate bowel movements;
  • rectal laxatives (suppositories and enemas) help to trigger the elimination reflex.

Fewer than three bowel movements per week

stools that are too hard and difficult to pass

10 to 30%

of adults are affected by constipation; the majority are women

Often unrecognized

Constipation in children is often unrecognized

Last update 13/04/2017