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9 Reasons You Can't Poop

Plus, how to get things moving again. Just in case.

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1. You're not eating enough fiber. / Via

About a third of people who have constipation are dealing with "low-fiber constipation," Gina Sam, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center, tells BuzzFeed Life. Start eating four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and see if that gets things moving again.

2. You're dehydrated.

"You basically need water in order for your stool to move through the colon," Sam says. When you don't drink enough water, that can back you up. If you're dealing with constipation, Sam says you should try to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day, and see if that helps a bit.

3. You're a sedentary creature.

"Moving around helps your colon move," Sam says. So being inactive can exacerbate constipation. Stay regular by making sure you're getting exercise on a regular basis. To help you get started, here are 29 Smart Ways To Motivate Yourself To Work Out.


4. You might have a health condition, like thyroid disorder, or diabetes.

Alexander Ekman / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: parkbank

Another subtype of constipation is called "slow transit constipation," Sam says, "and that's basically where your colon is just moving slower — it has a slower contraction time." Slower contraction times can really gum up the works. Certain health conditions can cause slow transit constipation — Sam named thyroid disease and diabetes as two examples. If you have constipation that doesn't seem to be helped by any of these tips in this story, you should definitely go to a doctor to get checked out.

5. You're taking narcotics.

Certain medicines can cause slow transit constipation, and narcotics are definitely on that list. Narcotics are typically opioid pain relievers, like Codeine, Morphine, Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Demerol, and others. If your doctor-prescribed narcotics are giving you constipation, talk to your doctor about ways to help alleviate the issue. (And if you're taking narcotics illegally... stop doing that, and not just because of your constipation. It's incredibly dangerous to take these drugs unsupervised.)

6. You recently took medicine for an upset stomach.

Like Immodium, or Pepto Bismol. These meds are meant to calm your stomach and stop diarrhea, but they can have the effect of blocking you up, too. Too much of a good thing.

7. You're in a rush to get out the door in the morning.

Outlet disfunction is the third subtype of constipation, Sam says. "In that subtype, patients may have confused their muscles in the rectum and the anus, and basically caused something called pelvic floor disfunction, where instead of relaxing their anal sphincter, they squeeze it," she says.

The big cause of this has to do with lifestyle factors — like rushing out the door every morning before you give yourself time to do your business. Our bodies are primed to poop in the morning, thanks in part to cortisol levels, Sam says. "But if people are rushing out the door or not taking time to go to the bathroom, they can get their muscles all confused," she says. "They don't use it, and they forget how to relax their sphincter." This confusion can make it much harder to poop later on in the day.


8. You're too shy to go in public, when the urge strikes.

Another thing that can cause muscle confusion is when you feel like you have to go, and then you hold it in. Looking at you, people who refuse to poop in public bathrooms at all costs. Sometimes those costs = constipation, due to confused anal sphincters.

9. You've become hooked on laxatives.

Sammieslettering / Etsy / Via

The occasional laxative when you're having a hard time can be quite a relief. But Sam warns against relying on them. "You can get used to it and then need it more and more," she says.

OK great! So what can you do about it?

Justine Zwiebel for BuzzFeed / Via

Drink lots of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, get plenty of exercise, and listen to your body, Sam says. Go when you have to go, even if it means using a public restroom.

And if the issue doesn't improve after you make all those changes, then go to your doctor and see if there's something else going on. Repeatedly treating yourself with laxatives without a doctor's supervision could make the problem worse. Your doctor won't judge you — they've heard it all a million times before, seriously.