With so much information out there, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Since the condition affects up to a fifth of people at any one time, we take a closer look at these constipation myths and facts.
Top Tip If you notice any persistent change in your bowel habit, such as needing to go to the toilet more often, having looser stool, bleeding from your bottom or stomach pain please visit your GP, as these symptoms could indicate other problems.
Myth: ‘Normal’ bowel movement means passing stool (pooing) every day.
Fact: How often people pass stool differs from one individual to another. Most people will have a bowel movement between three times a day and three times a week. It is when your bowel movements become less frequent than is usual for you that you may need to consider whether you are constipated.
Myth: My poo is formed of separate hard lumps, and the Bristol stool chart says this is very constipated. But I go to the toilet every day, so I must be OK.
Fact: A normal bowel motion should be well formed, soft and easy to pass. Types 3 and 4 on the Bristol stool chart are normal.
Myth: I have occasional diarrhoea; I can’t be constipated.
Fact: You may experience faecal leakage as a result of constipation – liquid stool can build up behind and then bypass the dry stool.
Myth: Only old people get constipation.
Fact: Constipation does appear to be more common in women and older people but anyone, of any age, can struggle with constipation.
Myth: Constipation is inevitable.
Fact: Constipation is very common, but it can be distressing and uncomfortable. There are a number of changes that can be made that usually improve the condition.