Bowel movements are often taken for granted. For most, it is a daily occurrence and a part of our routine that isn’t fully appreciated. If you've ever experienced constipation, you all too well know the feeling of sitting in the bathroom and not being able to produce a bowel movement with ease.

Constipation can be annoying, uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing. The meaning of constipation can differ depending on whom you ask, but the clinical definition is producing less than three bowel movements a week.

Next time you experience discomfort in the bathroom, here are the things you should know about constipation.

  1. You can have bowel movements and still have constipation. Struggling forever and only ending up with small bowel movements is a sign of constipation. Also, the stool can be straining, hard, or lumpy.
  2. There are many different causes of constipation. Lacking enough fiber and water are the main catalysts. Changes in your lifestyle such as diet, travel and medication (such as antidepressants and opioids) can also lead to constipation.
  3. Constipation can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition. Constipation can point to IBS-C, a form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome characterized by constipation, or, more uncommonly, be an indicator of colon cancer. If you’ve been experiencing constipation for three months or more, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to get tested.

Constipation can typically resolve on its own by increasing the amount of fluids you drink and the amount of fiber in your diet. If this comes to no avail, fiber supplements are another solution, as well as over-the-counter laxatives and other options.

Although constipation can be embarrassing to discuss, do not hesitate to visit a doctor a solution because it can certainly be bothersome. There’s no shame in wanting to get things moving again.

For more about the effects and causes of not being able to poop, check out the recent article by Self: "So, you haven't pooped in a while ..."