Munson Health

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by Carson-DeWitt R


Treatment may include:

Understanding Normal Bowel Movements

Talk to your doctor about what is a normal frequency of bowel movements for you. The range of normal is quite broad. Some people have several stools a day. Others have one stool every several days.

Making Lifestyle Changes

Taking Laxatives, Stool Softeners, or Glycerin Suppositories

Regularly using laxatives or enemas can be habit forming. Your bowels can become used to these products and require them to produce a stool. Stool softeners, though, are not habit-forming. Ask your doctor about how often and for how long to use these products.
Examples of medications include:
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350—a type of laxative
  • Psyllium—a bulk laxative
  • Docusate—a stool softener
  • Lactulose—a type of laxative
  • Lubiprostone—a medication that increases fluid in stool
  • Botulism injections—may be used to treat certain types of constipation

Retraining Your Bowels

Set aside the same time each day to move your bowels. Typically, this works best first thing in the morning. Sit on the toilet for 15-20 minutes. Over time, your body will learn to have regular bowel movements at the same time each day.

Using Biofeedback

Biofeedback may be effective in certain conditions. By working with a therapist, you learn how to control certain muscles that can help you to move your bowels.

Treating Underlying Conditions

Work with your doctor to treat other conditions that may be causing your constipation.

Changing Medications

If you are taking medication that causes constipation, talk to your doctor to find out if you can take a different medication.
If you are taking opioids to relieve pain, you may have constipation. A medication called methylnaltrexone may help to reduce this side effect.

Having Surgery

If you have severe, chronic constipation, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If you are diagnosed with constipation, follow your doctor's instructions.


American Gastroenterological Association

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases



Health Canada

Healthy U



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Treatment of constipation. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders website. Available at: Updated November 22, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.

What I need to know about constipation. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Published September 11, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.

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