What is constipation?


Constipation is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. It can mean that you’re not passing stools regularly, or you’re having difficulty passing them.1 Or you may even feel an uncomfortable fullness even after you’ve had a bowel movement.2

Constipation affects everybody differently. It can make your stools hard and lumpy, or unusually large or small.

You are probably having constipation if:3

  • You have bowel movements fewer than 3 times in a week
  • Your stools are often difficult to push out and larger than usual
  • Your stools are often dry, hard or lumpy

You may also have stomach ache and feel bloated or sick.1

Constipation isn’t just about frequency. In fact, many doctors consider factors such as the shape, texture and consistency of stools to be the best way to assess bowel functionality. Your doctor may use a simple scale to measure your stool consistency called the Bristol Stool Scale4 You can download a copy here.

Constipation usually is not a serious condition– but speak to your doctor if you have any concern.


Constipation is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting up to 1 in 3 people.5


1. NHS Inform. Constipation. Preventing constipation. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/constipation#preventing-constipation. Accessed 12 Nov 2019.
2. Information from your family Doctor. Constipation. Am Fam Physician. 2010;15:82(12):1440-1441.
3. NHS. Constipation. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/constipation/. Accessed 12 Nov 2019.
4. Lewis SJ, et al. Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1997 Sep;32(9):920-4.
5. Cullen G, O’Donoghue D. Constipation and pregnancy. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2007; 21(5): 807-18

MAL2244083 15 AUG 2022