Ask the Experts- September 2018

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: September 13, 2018

Dear Red Hot Mamas,
This is embarrassing for me to ask your experts, but I need help with constipation. Can you please offer me some ideas about what to do about it? Thank you.

Dear Carla,

Don’t be embarrassed. A lot of Americans — more than 4 million by some estimates — deal with constipation on a regular basis. Women are the most frequent constipation sufferers.

This may have to do with the slower movement of food through a woman’s intestines, as well as with the effects of female hormones on the GI tract.

The symptoms associated with constipation include bloating, abdominal discomfort, having two or fewer bowel movements per week with hard stools, as well as having to strain and push when you are actually having a bowel movement.

Certainly any of these symptoms can contribute to you not feeling your best.

Some strategies you might consider are:

  • Increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps make your stools bulkier, which allows tiny hairs along the inner walls of the intestines to whisk them out with greater ease. Fiber also helps to make your bowels move faster. Eating foods like oatmeal, high fiber cereal, whole grain bread, and consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day will help with constipation. Fiber only works if you drink plenty of water, so…
  • Drink plenty of water. Drink at least eight cups of water per day.
  • Take a walk. Become more active as it helps you to pass your food more quickly through your intestinal tract.
  • Sit on the toilet about a half an hour after eating. Getting your body on a schedule can lead to better regularity.
  • Take a look at the medications you are taking and discuss them with your health care provider. For instance, taking prescription painkillers could make constipation worse.

Also, don’t ignore the problem. Untreated constipation can lead to real problems, such as hemorrhoids and tears in the skin around the anus (called fissures) that make you bleed. If you strain too hard, you might even cause part of your intestines to push out through the anus — a condition called rectal prolapse that can sometimes require surgery.

You should discuss your problems with constipation with your healthcare provider.