How Constipation Affects Women

How Constipation Affects Women

Constipation is a very common condition that can affect everyone at some point in their lives. However, women are more commonly affected than men and the frequency of constipation cases increases with age. Constipation may be a frequent problem for some people, which may require medical attention.

Anatomical differences, social conditioning, inclination for healthy nutrition and excessive hygiene concerns are some of the reasons why women get constipated more often than men.

Women are also more susceptible to colorectal diseases and cancers that are related to constipation.

Anatomical Differences

The anatomical differences of women and men play a large role in the development of constipation in women. Women are naturally skilled in using their pelvic and abdominal muscles to deliver babies, making it easier for them to strain their bowel muscles. This is not healthy, however. Straining can cause anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and anorectal nerve damage. These conditions can all contribute to or accompany chronic constipation.

Social Conditioning

Women often become uncomfortable with the noises they hear and make in a public restroom, and may withhold their stools until they’re home. Because of this, the stools may become hardened and enlarged. As a result, they may require excess effort and straining to expel. This can then lead to anorectal damage.

Women often refuse to sit on a public toilet. Squatting over a toilet bowl may result in an incomplete emptying of the bowels. This can cause constipation by way of other problems.

Anal Hygiene

Because the vagina is in close proximity to the anus, women can be extremely particular about their anal hygiene. This is another issue that can lead to women holding their stools until they get home.


Constipation is a natural effect of pregnancy, especially the early stages. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur when a woman becomes pregnant. This type of constipation can even be extremely painful. In addition, women strains intensely during childbirth which can cause hemorrhoids that result in constipation.

Other Factors

Women are able to hold back the urge to move their bowels up to three times more than men. Because of this, they are more prone to constipation. The level of progesterone that women have can also be associated with constipation. Studies have shown that women with low progesterone levels are more likely to be constipated. Women's menstrual cycles often cause periods where their levels of progesterone and estrogen fluctuate, thereby  delaying the pace at which their intestines are emptied.

A condition called rectocele, bulging of rectum in the vagina, can also lead to constipation in women. Rectocele happens when the wall between the vagina and the rectum is weakened. The rectum will then press against the wall, causing intense discomfort. This condition often occurs after giving birth or after pelvic surgery. In addition, rectocele may also develop when the rectal wall grows weaker with age.

Lastly, women are more exposed to stress compared to men. Hormonal modulations, family responsibilities, and societal expectations and pressures can all contribute to the stress a woman may experience, and may make women more susceptible to constipation.