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Constipation: learn more about this condition so common among women

Just the existence of market products designed to end constipation should already serve as an indication of how common the problem is. Even so, the subject remains taboo, with many people failing to seek treatment or even not knowing that they suffer from the condition.

“Constipation, or intestinal constipation, different from what many imagine, is not just the fact of having a bowel movement a few times a day or not having a bowel movement every day. Anyone who has persistent difficulty in evacuating, with hardened stools, pain, or needs to exert a lot of effort is also considered constipated”, explains Dr. Marcos Belotto, gastrosurgeon at Hospital Sírio Libanês.


Constipation has to do with bowel movement which, in turn, is directly linked to the good (or bad) functioning of the body. For this reason, constipation is usually associated with several factors, the main ones being behavioral, according to the specialist. Check out the most important ones below:

  • Diet lacking fiber: found in vegetables, fruits and cereals, fiber is essential for the formation of stool.
  • Low water intake: while fibers help in the formation of fecal cake, water is essential to hydrate it, preventing its drying and ensuring better intestinal transit.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: physical activities, especially aerobics, stimulate peristaltic movement. Its absence, therefore, may be behind the lazy gut.
  • Failing to respond to the urgency to evacuate: every time we fail to go to the bathroom out of shame or laziness, we change our bowel habits, making it slower. In addition, delaying going to the bathroom favors the drying of feces, causing difficulty and pain in evacuation.
  • Use of certain medications: Antidepressants that slow down normal body processes can also slow down the muscles in the intestines.
  • Anxiety, stress and depression: they slow down intestinal transit due to the connection between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system, a network of neurons in the digestive system linked to intestinal functions.

In addition to these causes, Dr. Marcos Belotto mentions that constipation can also be associated with more serious health problems. “It can be secondary to anatomical alterations, intestinal, metabolic and neurological diseases. A very frequent cause is irritable bowel syndrome,” he says. Therefore, if you maintain healthy habits and still suffer from constipation, the ideal is to seek a doctor in order to rule out the possibility of more serious diseases.


Despite being a very common problem, which affects about 30% of Brazilians, many people do not know or do not admit to having a trapped intestine. This is largely due to the shame of touching on a subject seen as eschatological, but also due to the false idea that only those who never go to the bathroom can be considered constipated.

“The ideal is that the frequency of bowel movements is 3 to 12 times a week, but even if it is within these values, one who needs to make a very important or little productive effort to evacuate can be considered constipated”, says Dr. Marcos Belotto.

To dispel doubts, he lists the main symptoms associated with constipation:

  • 2 or fewer bowel movements per week
  • Dry and not very bulky stools
  • Discomfort to evacuate
  • Abdominal distension
  • excess gases
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying after defecation

Although these symptoms are a strong indication of constipation, the doctor points out that “there is no rule. The important thing in differentiating whether it is a normal or abnormal variation of the bowel rhythm is the change in the individual pattern rhythm and the well being of the patient,” he says. However, he warns that additional symptoms such as malaise, severe pain and bleeding should always be investigated as soon as possible.


As it is not a disease in itself, constipation does not usually require specific treatment. “The vast majority of patients benefit from making lifestyle changes,” explains the specialist. Check out below the main treatments for different cases of constipation.

  • Bet on foods that are natural laxatives: adding fruits such as plums and papaya, in addition to fiber-rich bran, is a way to stimulate the functioning of the intestine.
  • Increase water consumption: following the classic guideline of drinking two liters of water a day already helps to alleviate the problem.
  • Suppositories and enemas: Exclusively for the most severe cases of constipation, these two medications facilitate the elimination of stools.
  • Surgical intervention: the gastrosurgeon says that only more restricted cases may need intervention, but states that they are very infrequent.

According to experts, laxative remedies should only be used under medical supervision, as they act very punctually, irritate the intestines and, in the long run, can even worsen constipation.

Home remedies to fight constipation

For those who live daily with constipation, even adopting healthy lifestyle habits, the good news is that some natural home remedies can help improve intestinal transit. See below for two options recommended by the expert.

    flaxseed water


    • 1 glass of water
    • 2 tablespoons of flaxseed

    Preparation mode:

    1. At night, before going to bed, place two tablespoons of flaxseed in a glass of water and set aside;
    2. Take the water the next morning. The recipe can be consumed daily.

    plum juice with orange


    • 1 glass of water
    • 3 plums
    • juice of 1 orange

    Preparation mode:

    1. Put the plums in a glass of water before bed and let the mixture sit until the next morning.
    2. Blend the water and plums in a blender;
    3. Add the orange juice or half a glass of whole grape juice.
    4. Drink the mixture then.

    The advantage of these two recipes is that, because they are light and natural, they do not have side effects, such as intestinal irritation. Try to avoid teas that promise an immediate solution unless consumed under medical supervision.

    Groups of risk

    Whether it’s because of a trip or a temporary change in diet, it’s possible for everyone to experience at least one episode of constipation once in their lifetime. However, for hormonal, chemical, physical or even social reasons, some groups are more prone to chronic constipation. Are they:

    Women: according to the specialist, the main reason for women to be in the risk group is hormonal changes, which influence peristaltic movements. In addition to them, doctors also point out the fact that women grow up with the idea that having a bowel movement is something ugly, which leads us to not use the bathroom at work, college, at friends’ houses, etc. delay in bowel habit.

    Elderly: as we age, our movements become slower, including the movements of the intestinal muscles, responsible for the conduction and elimination of the fecal cake.

    Bedridden people: both because of the restriction of movements and the low intake of water that they usually have, people hospitalized or in constant rest should pay extra attention to constipation.

    Remembering that, even outside the risk group, anyone can become constipated depending on the habits adopted in everyday life.

    how to prevent

    As raised by the specialist previously, the trapped intestine is a sign that something is not going well in the body. Therefore, there is no way. More than making recipes that alleviate the problem, the solution to avoid constipation is to maintain healthy habits in your routine and not just in times of crisis. Here’s how to prevent the painting in a lasting way:

    Practicing physical activities: aerobic exercises stimulate peristaltic movements, facilitating intestinal transit.

    Increasing fiber intake: fruits, vegetables and vegetables rich in fiber will help in the formation of fecal cake. Some fruits even work as natural laxatives.

    Drinking more liquids: to hydrate the fecal cake, the ideal is to drink more water, but it is also worth betting on juices or teas that are not diuretic.

    Heeding the calls of nature: jokes and euphemisms aside, evacuating when you feel like it is essential to not dry out the stool and not to delay the bowel habit.

    Managing Stress: Our emotions are also linked to how the gut works. So try to relax, investing in activities that give pleasure in everyday life.

    Another tip to prevent constipation is to try to regulate the bowels to go to the bathroom at the same time, which can be done with the help of natural laxatives, such as papaya or yogurts with probiotics. Thus, you can choose a time when you are usually available and comfortable to evacuate.

    What to eat (and what to avoid) to avoid constipation

    There is no doubt that maintaining a proper diet is essential to maintain the proper functioning of the body, but what exactly to eat and what to avoid in order to keep intestinal transit up to date?

    Bet on these foods…

    • Laxative fruits: plum and papaya have a high fiber content, in addition to, respectively, sorbitol and papain, substances that stimulate peristalsis.
    • Flaxseed: it has soluble and insoluble fibers that help to increase the fecal cake and improve intestinal transit.
    • Pumpkin: when consumed at least three times a week, it helps to balance the intestinal flora thanks to the high concentration of fiber, iron, zinc and potassium.
    • Dark leafy vegetables: lettuce, arugula, cabbage and watercress are rich in insoluble fibers that facilitate the formation of fecal cake;
    • Fruits with pomace: the highest concentration of fiber in fruits is in the skin and pomace. Therefore, choose fruits in which you can eat these parts, such as oranges with pomace.
    • Whole grains: because they have much more insoluble fiber than their refined versions, they also help in the formation of fecal cake and intestinal transit.

    And stay away from those…

    • Industrialized foods: cookies, soft drinks and other goodies have low fiber content, but are rich in carbohydrates and sugars, which prevent the action of beneficial bacteria to the functioning of the intestine.
    • Refined cereals: white wheat flour, white rice and other refined cereals are low in fiber and contribute to intestinal contraction, in addition to fermenting, producing gas.
    • Guava: despite being low in calories and rich in fiber, its fibers are of the soluble type, known to slow down intestinal functioning, especially when there is low water consumption.
    • Apple: like guava, it is rich in soluble fibers, which can absorb water from the fecal cake, causing intestinal delay.
    • Fatty foods: in addition to having low fiber content, foods such as fried snacks make the pH of the intestine more acidic, making it difficult to function.
    • Foods…

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